October 2, 2019 FDCI

Half the Sky

Runa Laha is an example for those who look at age as debilitating and glamour to be a reserve of youth

By Asmita Aggarwal

The adage bold and beautiful is not enough to describe Runa Laha, as this 40-year-old is much more than just a mother and wife. Unlike most women, who believe their life is over after motherhood as they are “settled now” and give up on themselves, Runa embarked on an adventurous journey, which was self-motivated.

“I am a person who loves to travel, a voracious reader, I believe in healthy living physically, emotionally and spiritually. I take life head-on. I believe in the complete surrender to the universe and always have faith that everything will be taken care of,” says Runa.

It is this faith that spurred a career in modelling started after the birth of her son, marriage, and winning a beauty pageant in Kolkata, as her father who was rather conservative never allowed her to pursue her childhood dream; he didn’t think modelling is where “good girls” worked. A corporate job ensued, on her family’s insistence, but Runa says, “sometimes the universe listens to us” and nine years ago life took a turn for the best. “I began modelling and got interesting offers like Lime Road, Vineet Bahl and was signed on by Elite Models,” she explains.

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Walking for Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week, in association with EbixCash, selected at the Kolkata auditions held by the Fashion Design Council of India, Runa was one of the many, who found acceptance in a world that is soaked in the pursuit of looking young. She feels age is no longer a consideration even when she is among girls as young at 18 on the catwalk, as she loves her job, and it comes naturally to her. “Actually, I never felt awkward or discriminated against,  in fact, I won appreciation from my peers and younger girls looked up to me as an inspiration. Frankly, there is wider acceptance now and you don’t need to be in your 20s to be labelled a stunner,” she adds.

Though Runa now a size 6, was once 92 kg and many moons back she recalls meeting friends over coffee. They commented on how unhealthy she looked. That day she took a pledge, she would get fit in a year and compete in the Ms Kolkata pageant to be held next year. She won it, lost 40 kilos, and exclaims that success quietens everyone even your worst detractors, even though her mom still chides her for becoming a model. Runa believes it’s not about being skinny, but about feeling good.

“When you come from a middle-class family, your parents want you to get a well-paying government job. My dad wanted me to be a professor, I did my MA in political science and taught in a school,” she explains. But with gentle encouragement from her husband, who is in the construction business and 14-year-old son, Runa crossed the Rubicon to join a world that she was never exposed to.

A yoga expert and regular swimmer, Runa is never paid lesser than younger girls, in fact, she is choosy about her assignments. “I have done work that didn’t interest me as a relationship manager in an educational company. Now I do what delights me, no compromises. At an age when models retire, I began my career,” she concludes.

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