Sweet Gigs

Celebrating all kinds of love with model and content creator Onella Muralidharan

Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Onella Muralidharan, vitiligo model, content creator, positive body image advocator and passionate interior designer, whose journey to self-love has been both inspiring and empowering. 

A beacon of self-love and acceptance, Onella fearlessly showcases her authentic self and challenges traditional beauty norms by sparking important conversations about inclusivity and representation in the fashion and beauty industries. Join us this Valentines' Day as we celebrate love in all its forms with a snapshot into her world.

Hi Onella! Thank you so much for spending the morning with us. For those who haven’t heard of you, can you please introduce yourself and what you do?

Hello! My name is Onella and I'm currently working as a curve model and content creator in the fashion and beauty space! Growing up I never thought this was a viable career option for me as I'm short, curvy and have a very apparent skin condition called Vitiligo. None of which fit the beauty standard of what I thought a model was! But thankfully the people's minds are shifting and so is the industry, it may be slow but there is change happening. I aim to inspire people to embrace their unique selves and embrace their differences by sharing my own journey of self acceptance both at home and participating in national media campaigns! 

Another fun fact is I'm also a qualified Interior Designer! I think I've always had a love for interiors, growing up my room was my sanctuary and I loved decorating it in various ways. I really believe our spaces have a major impact on our mental health, our productivity and our ability to relax and unwind, which is why I love creating spaces that not only look aesthetically pleasing but also function in a logical way for the users.

Tell us about your experience with vitiligo. What advice would you give to young women about celebrating their uniqueness and feeling great in their own skin?

I would say I've had a very positive experience with my skin condition Vitiligo, and I would put that down to the people around me. I am lucky to say I was never bullied at school despite looking different, sounding different and migrating from another country at the young age of 8. The acceptance I recieved, especially in primary school, paved the way for further acceptance within myself, so when someone did make a comment about my skin I was able to brush it off and not let it affect the way in which I view myself which in turn helped me build a thick skin. 

My advice to other young people who want to celebrate their uniqueness and feel great in their own skin is to always treat themselves with kindness and compassion, just as they would others and to keep working on themselves. Self acceptance comes from a place of knowing yourself and realising that life is a journey not a destination, as humans we are constantly changing and evolving and that's okay. Don't be too harsh on yourself as you find your feet and learn to undo the negative teaching society has brought on us about our own bodies, that takes time and we are all trying to rewrite our own stories together! I've found surrounding myself with other people both IRL and on social media who are true to themselves, authentic and embody self acceptance has helped me celebrate myself and feel more dignified in my own skin!

Walk us through your daily beauty routine. What can’t you live without?

I like to keep my beauty routine pretty simple day to day as it makes it easier for me to be consistent with it. I always use a face cleanser to wash my face and usually do this in the shower because it saves time and I hate getting my sleeves wet at the sink. And then it's moisturiser time! I use a different combination of products depending on if it's the AM or PM but usually follow this; serum of choice, moisturiser that's usually lightweight, lip balm, SPF in the AM and a thick moisturiser in the PM to lock it all in! But if I can't be bothered layering multiple products I'll just slap on the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentré cream and now I cannot live without it! It's my go to for both AM & PM everyday!

We’ve seen you in some incredible campaigns. What are some of your modelling career highlights thus far?

My career highlight so far would definitely have to be my Vogue Australia feature! Such a surreal moment to see my face, my name and my story in a VOGUE MAGAZINE?! Still feels crazy to say it but I'm also incredibly proud to have been part of it and to see the industry changing its views on beauty! However I wouldn't have been able to get there without the support brands such as Sportsgirl, Bonds, Mecca, IT Cosmetics or Highpoint Shopping Centre, just to name a few, who have also taken steps into the change and had me on as part of their campaigns, showing people out there that it's okay to look different and be different, and that's something that should be celebrated, not discriminated against!

Aside from modelling and influencing, your passions also lie with interior design. In what ways do you express your personality through your home interiors? Any upcoming trends we should keep an eye on?

For me, my interiors are a direct reflection of my style, aesthetic and personality! I usually go for a light and airy look accented by shades of green as they are the colours I love the most and find the most comforting and calming. I'm lucky that my partner Ryan thinks the same, so designing our home doesn't come with a lot of conflict there, well maybe some but I find a way to convince him! We both love the juxtaposition between organic, modern and characteristic traditional elements that create a warm and homely space. 

This last year I've been researching affordable ways to update the spaces in our existing home so we can create the look and feel we desire without breaking the bank! We are currently on the journey to purchase our next home so we'll be starting all over again, which might daunt some people but I'm actually very excited for more space, and more areas to design! I've already got some ideas from current trends like frame wainscoting, organic materials and tactile textures! But having said that I don't always follow the trends, instead I take what I like best and make it my own for myself because ultimately, as I say to anyone I design for, you are the one who will see the design everyday so it needs to work for you! I'll be sharing more of my designing and styling on my design Instagram @studio.onella!

If you had to choose one fabric forever, are you sleeping in linen or cotton?

Linen and cotton are by far my favourite fabrics to sleep in and aren't too different from each other! Ideally I would have linen bedding and cotton pajamas but if I could only choose one, I would choose cotton because it's so versatile, breathable and soft! It's also a great material to use all year round in Australia, Melbourne especially where you never know what the weather has in store for you! It's also a natural material that provides a soft textural feature in your bedroom and with a variety of colours it can suit any aesthetic! But I cannot leave without mentioning the gorgeous organic texture linen has! I love using it on my bed to create an organic feel!