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Beauty is What Beauty Does

Sushmita Sen,former Miss Universe,ready with the second edition of I Am She — her very own beauty pageant — deconstructs beauty.

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha |
June 26, 2011 1:21:46 am

Sushmita Sen,former Miss Universe,ready with the second edition of I Am She — her very own beauty pageant — deconstructs beauty

The second edition of I Am She is ready to be rolled out this year — did you learn on the job?

Part of what I learnt in my foray as an entrepreneur is that you get the best specialists to man a process. Though our internal team comprises about 50 people,most of our work is outsourced. Doing the production of a show this size was something that should have been done by outside companies but we did it ourselves. It was a huge learning.

What makes I Am She different from the crowd of pageants?

Our show is very different — we are a concept,not just an event. We didn’t objectify women which is why,we call it,I Am She. She is very generic. Beauty can be found in any woman. We didn’t have language barriers. You can speak in Marathi,Punjabi or any other language that you choose. That brings about a heightened sense of confidence. We have gone straight to the target group — 18 to 26. We got small-city girls. We have the I Am Foundation that makes them raise funds through the year for charity. We are an ongoing process.

Considering you are an actress yourself,would winners or participants be promised a role in Bollywood?

We will help them but that’s not what we are promising. What we are promising is a platform to have a global presence. Like the Milan thing — we are offering a chance to be an understudy with Jean Paul Gaultier or Dolce Gabbana. We gave you a platform that empowers you as opposed to telling you that we gave you an item number in a movie. I didn’t look down upon it,I am an actor,I did it at a time when it was unheard of but if you wish to study,see the world,this is the platform for it.

Beauty with brains — truth or myth? What according to you defines beauty?

This a caption the media uses because they don’t have a better one. Beauty is too vast a concept to be defined by just a sharp nose,light skin. So when they say Maharani Gayatri Devi was a timeless beauty,it was because of the work she used it for. There was beauty that made her connect with people and that made her timeless.

Can there be a homogenous standard of beauty as prescribed by fashion magazines?

As a beautiful woman,you cannot measure your beauty by the dictates of a social structure. A beauty magazine cannot tell you whether you are beautiful or not. That is one of the things I don’t agree with. Your beauty,in that sense,does not need anyone else’s approval. That heightened sense of self-esteem is usually lacking. On one hand,beauty pageants speak of instilling confidence in women about themselves,but on the other hand,they set standards of beauty that are responsible for low-esteem in several women.

Opinions are divided about Indian actresses,in particular,opting for gowns over saris at the Cannes Red Carpet. Are we trying too hard to fit in?

When in Rome,do as the Romans do. At Cannes it’s not just our Sonam Kapoor,Aishwarya Rai Bachchan or Mallika Sherawat doing it. Even Julia Roberts and Freida Pinto are. If they didn’t then it would be trying too hard to be different. Trying to be a size zero because the world likes it — now that’s trying too hard because our body type is different. People getting their bones restructured because broad shoulders are not in this season,that’s disastrous.

Your pick of the most beautiful women in the world?

My friend Rajiv Narayan’s mother. She is dark skinned,medium height and has tremendous courage which makes her stunning. My mother Shobha Ma is also extremely beautiful as is Mother Teresa.

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