The women who are changing the homogeneous beauty norms in the most diverse ways!

For centuries, Indian women had to match up to the impossible beauty standards set by the society in all paradigms, especially in the glamour world where every model had to look and behave in a certain way, only adhering to the confines of culture with nearly having no scope for ‘individuality’ – they all had to be tall, fair, thin, statuesque, and most importantly, good enough to fit into the Eurocentric ideals! But thanks to some women who’ve come out of the shields and have commendably carved up a space that unabashedly celebrates their uniqueness in the most beautiful possible ways, making new non-stereotypical definitions about ‘beauty’.

Here’s to these audacious beauties.

Bhumika Arora

Photo credits: Bhumika Arora

You’d be living under a rock to not be aware of Bhumika Arora – the girl from Karnal who is amongst the first few Indian models who featured in Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 list. Adding to which Vogue India has also acclaimed this dusky beauty as “the moody-eyed, sultry-lipped, and enviously angular.” Although she has walked the ramp for the most celebrated luxury designers such as Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney and Balmain, just to name a few and have encrypted her name to the legacy of models all around the world, Bhumika has been often spotted talking of how the societal norms of ‘beauty’ hold her back (or at least tried!) and how her early years have been a marathon about not being ‘fair’ enough, of modelling not being a ‘good girl’s career option’, and for looking ‘too masculine’ for her model biz. “I used to think I was really, really ugly. In my town, nice girls weren’t models!” she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal to emphasize the notions the world’s been holding so wrongly. The struggle has been real for sure but however hard may be the journey, the gutsy model is surely taking India to the world, one international show at a time and we are in awe of every single endeavour.

Toshada Uma

Photo credits: Toshada Uma

In model’s typical world, a head full of bouncy hair and certain standards of the body are deemed attractive but breaking these norms is the young and petite Toshada Uma from Mumbai who was diagnosed with Alopecia at the age of 10. May sound disheartening (or unfortunate) but mind we say, her Instagram page talks completely the opposite – just like a happy burst of sunshine she has embraced her fallouts with an undimmable grace. As she quotes in one of her Instagram posts, “Ever since I was a kid, I was passionate about fashion and loved being in front of the camera. Modelling would’ve been an obvious career choice if I were any height above 5’7’’ but I am not; I’m 4’8’’ and as a young girl who had only ever seen tall models, I never thought I’d be one.” Be it her warrior charm or unique expression of self-beauty, that got the top-notch photographers’ note on her online portfolio and made them approach her for test shoots. Ever since then, Toshada is truly breaking the beauty norms by not only embracing her condition in full glory but also raising the bars high by being a successful stylist, petite model, blogger, and a co-founder of a company that sells wigs and other fashion accessories.

Renee Kujur

Photo credits: Renee Kujur

You might already know her as a model who is a Rihanna-lookalike (even her Instagram handle is named after the pop icon) but in real life, she is that and so much more! Hers is a story that legends are made of – Renee started saving up early for her big modelling portfolio, but her dark skin was a hindrance to almost any step she admired for herself, it was only when people started noticing her striking resemblance to Rihanna, that the fashion world truly embraced her otherwise so-called unacceptable beauty. In one of her interviews, she had told Vogue India, “I was made to feel that my colour and my features were my weakness but I made them my strength. Don't hate what [you're born with].” Indeed, a statement that’s ought to be endorsed by every fashion and beauty maven to defy all odds that the unrealistic grounds of beauty have imposed so far.

Sonali Singh

Photo credits: Sonali Singh

Being 5’6” tall and featured on many of Sabyasachi and Good Earth’s prestigious brand campaigns, Sonali is still considered to be a short model! Despite the demotivating asks of the model business Sonali is a force to be reckoned with – a discerning lady who at a very early age decided that she wanted to be a model, “no one ever told me I was beautiful. I was too short, too thin, too dusky. I just believed in myself” she says. Sonali is steadily pacing on a journey to help make people think of beauty in a completely different way, as she puts forward her pride in her facial scars and believes in staying true to herself by not hiding them. You can spot her in several ad campaigns and television commercials where she wears her ‘beauty mark’ with elan and considers it to be her secret arsenal.

Their willingness to not follow and to not let the social standards drive their choices is what makes these super-ladies a true inspiration on our list. Evidently, fortune favours the brave and these models are no less!  

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