In a fair and lovely world, Sangeeta Gharu makes a statement with undiminished courage, despite a rough childhood
By Asmita Aggarwal
What happens when you grow up in a small city where you are constantly put under the scanner for your skin colour? You develop insecurities that take a lot more than counselling to go away. Even though world over, the conversation about inclusivity is slowly spreading, dark, in India is still considered a taboo believes Jodhpur-raised Sangeeta Gharu.
At the age of 14, when she saw the Priyanka Chopra-starrer Fashion, she decided modelling will be her career, not knowing where to begin. “I knew I was tall and had been a sportsperson, all my life, that would be an advantage, but it was a long and painful journey to get to where I am,” she admits.
Her foray was with Ms India, like all modelling aspirants, it paves the way for future exposure, but Gharu didn’t make it to the selections and was weeded out. Not losing her confidence, she decided to work on herself, took grooming classes. “I learnt how to talk the walk, worked on my attitude, and also how to flaunt an ensemble, having no prior mentor or experience in this field. My parents are very simple, my dad is a cook, no one ever utters the word fashion at home, this made it tougher,” she explains.
In a fair-is-good dominated space, Gharu felt stifled and was often removed from final line ups, she saw the rampant discrimination till FDCI held auditions and she was one of the first to be selected. “I grew up with low self-esteem, feeling as if something was always lacking, and that I was ugly. What made it worse is my parents didn’t want me to get into modelling as I had completed my Bachelors in Business Administration. They thought a stable career in finance would be more suited for me,” she confesses.
Over the years, Gharu, 23, has learnt to love herself and says that God had made all of us the same, but human beings have made these brackets of beautiful and no-so-beautiful. “I was an NCC cadet and at 5 feet ten inches, I was the tallest in class making me again stand out, vulnerable to verbal attacks about my skin tone which was looked upon as a big disadvantage. They would tell me to use Fair & Lovely and put powder on my face to make it lighter. I got all kind of cruel comments and total lack of empathy even though we call ourselves educated and progressive,” she explains.
Now when she goes back to college, having walked the ramp and securing a place for herself, Gharu, gets only respect from teachers and peers. She is greatly inspired by models Alicia Raut, who has mentally and emotionally been her anchor, along with Archana Akhil Kumar. “I want to be a supermodel like Bhumika Arora, who made it big internationally and have every magazine use my picture on the cover. That’s the dream,” she concludes.