Bold & Beauitiful

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 16 June 2017

Curvy queens share how participating in a beauty pageant boosted their confidence and how that changed their lives

Modelling was always meant for slim and slender women. You needed to have the right measurements or you don’t make the cut. But all that has changed with plus size brands making their way into the Indian market, opening career opportunities for plus size models. Little did they know that they are not only giving plus size women a chance to consider a career which was a complete no-no for them, but they are also giving them a chance to reinvent themselves to feel fabulous. 

At 20, Sumedha Salian is the youngest participant. She says, “The journey of this pageant ended with a new beginning for me. I grew up thinking that models must be size zero, and I could never be. But this has changed the way not only I, but also the way others look at plus size people,”” says Salian. 

She claims that she enjoyed the portfolio shoot the most since she learnt a lot during the activity. Every woman, no, every person nowadays is so bothered about how they look in pictures. But Salian learnt that every picture you get clicked of yourself should be about you, and not about what others will look at it and think. “We learnt how to get better photos. I learnt never to hold my breath or suck my stomach in and look constipated in the photographs, but instead, just be less self conscious. And most importantly, always keep your left profile in front for a better photo,”” she shares, adding that her motto for clicking photographs now is, “Why hide?”

Having been on television before she signed up for the pageant, Payal Soni believes that there is a long road ahead of her as a plus size model. “Meeting with the other participants made me realise that I am not the only one who has experienced bullying. I spoke to them, heard their stories and told them about how I have tackled all this in my life too. But what matters is that you must love yourself the way you are. I learnt how to be patient from the other participants,” says Soni.

She says that there are people who are suffering from certain diseases and disorders who cannot help but put on weight and it is impossible for them to lose inches. She wants to reach out to them and tell them that it’s okay. “They must aim to get healthier; being slim and worrying about how they look to the rest of the world shouldn’t be of utmost importance. I want to start an agency for plus size models and give other people like me the opportunity to consider modeling as a career,” she says. 

Sameera loves the way that this event in her life, participating in a plus size beauty pageant, has taken all the negative energy she received from people and turned it into positive energy. “The same people who would make fun of my weight and say things like ‘if I fall, there will be a hole in the ground’, are the ones who have sent me their best wishes for the pageant. They’ve told me things like ‘All the best’, ‘We know you have it in you’ and so on. That has boosted my confidence,” says Thombare. 

Though she has participated in fashion shows during her college, this pageant was a completely different experience for her. “In college, I walked the ramp in front of 20-50 people, and it didn’t matter as much. This time, we had mentors and grooming sessions. It was professional and real. It opened my mind to think that this can be considered as a career,”says Thombare, who wants to create awareness about how being fit is important and not being slim. 

Mother to a 15-year-old daughter, Monica Dularey has been curvy, so to say, all her life. So when she came across this platform, it was no less than a dream come true. But did she have it in her to strut the ramp like she always wanted to? She did, and she won the pageant too. “Body shaming is something that has happened, and I will not deny it. I’m pretty confident as a person, but somewhere, somehow, when you are body shamed, it does affect you. Participating in this pageant has left me more secure about my body,” says Dularey. 

A little confidence can go a long way. And it was her daughter who cheered her on every time she wanted to take a step back. Look at Dularey now and you’ll find her flaunting her curves as they should be. “Whenever I used to wear jeans I used to pair it with a long top. But during the boot camp, the stylist told me that I have an hour-glass figure. It was the first time that someone has told me that. And I was so happy. Nowadays when I go shopping, I don’t opt for long tops. I don’t want to cover my body up, I’m not ashamed of it. My body’s beautiful,” says Dularey.

Follow the writer on Twitter @purplesaga

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