When I was 25, I was ghosted by the first agency to ever contact me.
Today, I am Miss Universe Australia 2020, represented by a leading inclusive Australian agency and the Ambassador for their national diversity Unsigned Model Search.
We are living in an exciting time.
Side note: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues below.
Within the Australian market, we are seeing strides made toward redefining outdated beauty standards – and for me personally, it has been my mission to challenge Anglo-Celtic perceptions of our national identity.
As the daughter of Indian immigrants, I’m abundant in melanin, but scarce when it comes to ‘blue eyes, blonde hair and lightly bronzed skin.’
This is a problem when that is the blueprint for beauty, success and what a 'true Aussie' looks like.
For people of colour, searching for yourself in fashion, television, films and beauty can often feel like a futile endeavour as we are still not quite where we need to be when it comes to adequate representation of our rich diversity.
This has a direct implication for how people who don’t fit the mould are perceived, but importantly, how they perceive themselves.
At 15, I remember pulling a Kylie Jenner and making a 'model book' with photos I had snapped on webcam.
I donned heavy kohl, and my dark eyes and hair contrasted distinctly with my brown skin – and proudly, my parents told me that I was beautiful and would make a wonderful Australian model.
However, these sentiments were not reflected in the experiences I had in my early days.
The first agency to initiate contact with me at 25 ghosted me after I told them that I hoped to use any visibility to talk about my story, diversity and inclusivity.
I would’ve been one brown face amidst a sea of white on their talent board, and only in hindsight as I peruse their fair-skinned feed, do I realise that I was a box to tick.