Confidence. Self-awareness. Strength. Imperfection. Beauty can mean different things to different people, and that’s the real magic of the word. There is no single definition of what’s beautiful; we all tend to find our own space, our own world where we feel gorgeous, empowered, at peace and happy. And the world seems to be finally awakening to this idea. Mainstream beauty is seeing a gradual change with brands and individuals ensuring that the narrative is more inclusive, tolerant and most importantly, constantly evolving. We are getting to see a big-tent approach where everyone is invited.
For the longest time beauty had specific rules: slim frame, fair complexion, a defined jaw, and we all adhered to it. That was the larger narrative, and we, probably, didn’t know any better. So what finally led to the change? First, it is the way we define beauty. What we consider beautiful is more of a reflection of who we are, over what we see. Beauty is now personal. It’s a reflection of our beliefs and values. And the second, and most important agent of change are the people. People who fought for, and demanded their right to be represented and included in the beauty conversation. They rewrote the very definition of the word and ensure that it now reflects us, as a generation who is willing to do better.
To celebrate this significant cultural moment, we got seven stunning individuals to show us what beauty means to them. Meet our showstoppers that are defying age-old societal norms: Appoorva Rampal, model; Mrunmayee Vanmali, fashion designer; Nitin Baranwal, artist; Sandra Nandeibam, transgender model; Purnima Rathod, artist; Toshada Uma, creative director and Model; Virali Modi, disability rights activist and motivational speaker.
On Purnima Rathod: Round-neck ruffled high low dress, ₹68,000, Gauri & Nainika; Kate sling shoes, price on request, Christian Louboutin; round diamonds and south sea pearls studded ring in 18k gold, price on request, Mahesh Notandass Fine Jewellery; studded sunburst earrings, ₹11,500, Arunument
On Apoorva Rampal: 3D hand-embroidered Coup de Vent ruffled cape dress, ₹99,500, Rahul Mishra; silver and rose gold plated two-tone enamel earrings, price on request, Amrapali
On Nitin Baranwal: 3D hand-embroidered balloon sleeve sequined fringe slit dress, ₹99,500, Rahul Mishra; pearl bee studs, ₹13,500, Aurnument; black rhodium band ring, ₹1,800, Curio Cottage
On Virali Modi: 3D-embroidered radial leaves yellow short dress, ₹99,500, Rahul Mishra; silver and gold plated panther head bangles, price on request, Amrapali
On Sandra Nandeibam: Neptune blue cosmic-burst fan sculpted dress, ₹ 1,50,000, Gaurav Gupta; silver and gold plated panther head bangle, price on request, Amrapali; Illusion set halo studs, ₹6,000, Aurnument
On Toshada Uma: Claw shirt and skirt, both price on request, QUOD; Illusion set emerald cut studs, ₹6,000, Aurnument
On Mrunmayee Vanmali: Refuse bodice and skirt, both price on request, QUOD; multi-coloured slingbacks, price on request, FENDI; silver earrings, price on request, Amrapali
What makes them ‘feel’ truly beautiful?
For Mrunmayee, the answer is simple. “Beauty is within ourselves. We don’t need to turn to others for validation to feel beautiful.” Apporva defines beauty in one powerful word, “Confidence”. Nitin feels it comes down to substance. “I equate beauty with being a better person,” she says. While Purnima finds beauty in owning it. According to her, ‘Feeling beautiful is about feeling confident about yourself, in your body.’ “Being who I am is where I find beauty,” Sandra says. Toshada feels beauty lies in strength and bravery. “When a person is fearless while expressing themselves, it is truly beautiful.” For Virali, feeling beautiful is about, “Embracing your imperfections while being in your own skin, and creating love for yourself.”
Photographs: Anirudh Agarwal, Models: Apoorva Rampal (Inega), Sandra Nandeibam, Purnima Rathod, Nitin Baranwal (a Little Fly), Toshada Uma (the Contact), Virali Modi, Mrunmayee Vanmali, Hair & Make-up: Jean Claude Biguine India
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