You were the first Indian woman to win the Mrs World title in 2001.
How was the feeling? Did you anticipate it then?
The feeling then and even now is quite exhilarating. Participating in pageants post marriage is such a sensitive topic even today. It’s almost as if society believes married women somehow become less capable of pursuing their dreams. Winning the title in 2001 gave me the voice to stand up and be a testament that your marital status has nothing to do with talent, glamour, drive or even opportunities for that matter. As for anticipating the win, no, I did not think I would win the crown. Mrs Maureen Wadia offered it to me because I guess she thought I would fit the bill and I took the chance.
Where did the idea of starting your own beauty pageant stem from?
The whole idea of the pageant came to me when I look at married women who get so absorbed in their married life, they forget to do anything for themselves. Women today are ambitious with a desire to do and become much more in life, that I feel it just takes a little nudge to bring them out of their shells and empower them to shine and bloom into who they are meant to be.
Tell us something about Marvelous Mrs India…
I decided to launch the pageant in order to empower women with skills that go far beyond the pageant stage and to celebrate women from all walks of life. Having been part of and winning the Mrs World title, the transformation that I saw within myself and how completely life altering the whole experience was for me, I just had to share all I know with women who have similar aspirations in life. I have designed the program structure in such a way that not only are the ladies equipped and ramp-ready for the finale after training, but the whole learning journey inspires personal growth, mental resilience, and positive changes in their lives. It’s something I call a 180 degree transformative journey.
With talks about unrealistic beauty standards coming to the forefront of late, where do you see beauty pageants in today’s times?
Well, the younger generation, B-Town star kids, and GenZs all take care of themselves quite fabulously, look great all the time, and holiday with the most aesthetic Instagrammable photos that the beauty standards have now reached, as you said, unrealistic standards. It’s a lot of pressure. However, because people today are so obsessed with outer appearances, many don’t bother to look beyond the surface. That for the beauty pageant industry is very tricky. As much as looks are important, pageantry is still super big about talent, intelligence, and most importantly the heart as it should be. My endeavour is to break the stereotypical barriers that a person needs to look or be a certain way be it the height, weight or skin tone to participate. It’s a step towards equality and focuses on beauty inside out.
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