The full interview and cover story with Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka's April 2018 cover star, Christina Peiris (aka Love, Plate)!
It’s a steaming hot Colombo afternoon at the swanky new Shangri-La. The horizon bubbles in the background as a peal of hysterical laughter ripples its way across the pool. Christina is lounging on a deck chair, trying to hang on to her fresh thambili as Team Cosmo tries valiantly to stick bulldog clips in her windswept hair, slather super-shiny body gel on her legs, and also make sure her highlighter is glowing up.
Unfazed through the long hours of shooting and the searing heat, Christina Peiris is making one thing clear – she’s a professional. For someone who photographs even better than a Lankan sunset, it’s interesting to note that she refuses to be seen as a model. “If anything, I’ll be a brand ambassador, and that too only with brands I support! I’m a designer, a blogger, Sri Lankan representative – and I’m open to trying new things.”
We chat a bit about her eponymous clothing brand, X.TINA, which features a designer collection of sleek, minimal silhouettes entwined with batik. Launched in Abu Dhabi about a year ago, it now retails online and is available in Sri Lanka. And the best part? A percentage of the profits go to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital.
This charitable choice is deeply personal to Christina. Having lost close family to cancer, this is how she wants to make a discernible difference, by creating awareness and donating money that pays for medication and other hospital requirements. Both the tragedy of loss and the passion for design have been Christina’s defining childhood influences. With career role models like our fave Spice Girl and fashion empire magnate Victoria Beckham, she’s always been drawn to the world of design.
As we settle into the hotel room, we look over Colombo’s changing skyline and chat candidly about life, work, and funnily enough, Instagram. Christina does appreciate the platform for giving her the opportunity to travel and review hotels and restaurants around the country, but she’s keen to make the distinction between being an Instagrammer and a bonafide blogger. A perfectionist that takes hundreds of photos before choosing one to highlight on her blog (titled Love, Plate after her famous sign-off), she takes her unique role seriously in a city full of influencers and insists that she’s always honest about her experience even though she’s often paid to review an establishment.
Effusive about the love and enthusiasm she’s received both as a blogger and representing Sri Lanka at the Miss Universe pageant, Christina frequently talks about how vitally important having people’s support is – both from followers and family. In fact, she’s been vocal about her father and sister’s support which got her through some of the grueling logistics of the pageant, whether that was sorting out flights or getting outfits ready for segments on time. Sometimes, however, the fame and adulation does have its adverse implications, especially in the form of numerous fake Instagram accounts, Tinder profiles, and sometimes pointed whispers in public. Despite this, she’s adamant that it doesn’t affect her that much and it’s worth it in order to get to meet people who follow her work and journey while she’s out and about in Colombo.
As Christina settles into the armchair by the window while waiting for a make-up change, we get talking about logistics, and I can’t help but ask – “what actually pays the bills?”. We both acknowledge that media and personality-driven assignments are poorly paid or often not paid for at all, which can be a challenge for entrepreneurs and freelancers as companies don’t yet fully understand the influential power of social media. Luckily for Christina, she juggles two businesses, and that along with her brand ambassador representation for Fashion Market has made her totally financially independent since she was about 20. “Which is great”, she quips, “especially given my online shopping addiction!”. Despite this, she’s extremely picky about what assignments she takes up as she simply won’t endorse brands that use animal testing or she doesn’t personally believe in.
Even though it’s all worked out for her, Christina tells me that she’s very serious about setting the right example for young girls in Sri Lanka and encouraging aspiring models and Instagrammers to focus on their education and enjoy their teenage years first. Of course, I mention that that sounds like a responsibility and perhaps requires some self-censorship, but Christina laughs it off by saying “Online Christina is very similar to IRL Christina – only a little less crazy!”. And we don’t doubt her – the whole set from crew to team is enamoured with her antics and ability to stay chipper throughout.
Speaking of people falling for the Chrissy charm, and given the fact that I’ve now bribed her with about 3 fish patties, I’m sure this is the optimal time to dive into the juicy bits we’ve all been curious to know more about, like her relationship and whether it’s as absolutely fun as it seems. After all, who doesn’t love a good love story? Luckily for us (and our non Instagram-sleuthing readers), Christina tells us all.
“I met Nayan almost 6 years ago in a café near my college”, she reveals, “I’ve known him ever since and honestly I’m sure he joined the same college I was in just to be around me…even though he denies this!”. One of the best aspects of their relationship to her is undoubtedly the strong team that they’ve become. Christina goes on to say, “He’s so patient with me especially when I turn into Cruella De Vil with getting photographs perfect for my blog”, which to us is absolute #goals, because which girl out there isn’t looking for an Instagram husband who can withstand a full 20 odd minutes of determined posing to get that perfect shot? As if we weren’t already impressed by their adorable partnership, Christina tells us what the crowning jewel of their relationship is. “He binge-watches Gossip Girl AND The Bachelor with me! It makes me the happiest girl in the world.”. We feel you, girl!
As we discuss her life here in Colombo, with her strong relationships, businesses, and connections with followers, we talk about what the future holds. Notwithstanding her love for Sri Lanka, its gorgeous natural landscape, and of course the food, she makes it clear she’s not blind to the issues many women face, whether it’s constant street harassment or bizarre moral policing. “We can no longer wear whatever we want or go wherever we want without a stranger yelling or whistling”, she explains.
Despite all this, and despite having spent half her life in Abu Dhabi, Christina insists that it’s only Sri Lanka that truly feels like home. Whether it’s her passion for animals (like her gang of furball pets ranging from mother hen Bubba the Alsatian to her cats) and animal rights, her commitment to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital, or her hope to someday have children, she’s pretty sure she’ll be doing it on our tropical island. And we can’t wait to follow her journey, one post at a time!
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