Beauty in Diversity

by Sunita

 Posted on 13-May-2016 08:51 PM

People come in all shapes and sizes. They come with different abilities – some conventional, others not. We dwell together, communicate and inspire each other harmoniously in a country as diverse as ours. Yet, have we been able to integrate and recognize our differently abled Indian community in the mainstream? Not as much…and the very idea of representing them in an industry as glamorous as modeling is far-fetched. Being a part of India’s glamour squad is an elusive dream for them.

Before this opinion is dismissed as ludicrous let us take a look around the globe. Canadian model Winnie Harlow defied all norms of modeling despite being struck by vitiligo (depigmentation of the skin) when she was given an opportunity to participate in America’s Next Top Model. She has been strutting the catwalk with panache ever since, proudly displaying her depigmentation. Jamie Brewer and Australian model Madeline Stuart (both with Down’s Syndrome) were given opportunities to express their inner beauty in acting and modeling assignments respectively. New York Fashion Week 2015 boasted of an impressive list of wheelchair-bound and amputee models.

The acceptance of plus size and gender fluid models abroad too is exemplary. How many plus-size models in India cater to the sizeable plus size Indian population? Every now and then we hear of the plus size scene catching on in India but options for these models remain extremely limited. There is hardly a complementary body to display the actual look of a plus size attire. I guess our huge horizontally-challenged population is expected to squeeze into trendy attires displayed by hot bods with a contortionist’s ease!

Transgender, gender fluid, cross dressing models? Don’t even go there. They are prohibited to conjure such ideas in their minds.

The biggest cause of seclusion of diversity from our modeling scene is our reluctance to accept them as beautiful – no matter how mangled we might be with our own disabilities. Our successful fashion designers and organizers too have failed to look past the monetary perspective of their merchandise and shows.  While plus-size and gender defying models are reduced to laughing stocks, a model with a physical handicap is deemed a bechara or bechari – someone who needs a shoulder to cry on, not a modeling contract.

Surely, there are some who are redefining the term ‘beauty with a purpose’. Two years back a fashion shoot showcased some very courageous survivors of grisly acid attacks as models. This laudable effort found its way on Kudos to the truly beautiful models, the gifted designer Rupa, who herself, is a victim of this brutality and the photographer Rahul Saharan. On the other front, designer Sana Saini deserves a shout-out for her endeavor Plus Size Models.

Call it our cooped-up thinking, shortsightedness or ignorance, we are eons behind in embracing and integrating our diversity in the modeling industry. We might be sympathizing with them or hailing their efforts but is that what they are looking for? The answer is a simple NO; for it doesn’t get them what they really need – opportunities and mainstream inclusion.

Photo:Jamie Brewer at the 2015 Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards, February 2015

By RedCarpetReport -, CC BY-SA 2.0,

TAGS : Jamie Brewer Disability in Modeling Winnie Harlow New York Fashion Week Sana Saini rahul saha

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