"Beauty for Me Is the Power and the Strength That Comes Within You." - Aishwarya Saju

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1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I come from an army background so almost every three years we shift to different states across the country. From a young age the modeling industry amazed me but never in my wildest dream did I think I would be a part of it. 

During my college days, I took part in fashion shows and realized that I liked the feeling of walking on the ramp, getting the adrenaline rush every time I got on the ramp was something I always looked forward to. Being a dancer, performing in front of a huge audience helped me overcome stage fear, and now facing an audience is something that genuinely excites me. 

Eventually, I started auditioning for different pageants like Femina Miss India, Liva Miss Diva Universe and every time I would reach till the last round and then get eliminated, then I realized I needed to work on myself more. 

During that phase of my life was when I auditioned for Miss South India and got selected into the finals. 

The irony is that the first-ever audition I gave in the field of pageantry was for Miss South India in 2018 and by constantly working on improving my skills I was able to win the same title in 2020 and I am so grateful to god and all my friends and family who supported me throughout the journey. 

2. Did you always dream about entering a beauty pageant and were you confident about winning?

As I said before, seeing the models in magazines and newspapers inspired me and I always wondered how they achieved this, especially for me, coming from a conservative family, there were many times where I almost gave up on this dream. 

But I must say I was blessed to have a good set of friends in my college who always motivated me to try different options. This encouraged me to participate in every fashion-related show and photoshoots that came my way. 

The closer I felt in achieving my goals, the more confident I was to approach my parents and convince them to let me pursue this field. I truly believe in the saying "Because she believed in herself she didn't have to convince others because if she accepted herself the whole world accepted her". 

I was not always as confident as I am now, in the earlier stages of my auditions. I was shy and insecure about my body but the moment I step my foot onto the stage, this quote by Nelson Mandela would resonate in my head - 

"I am the master of my faith and I am the master of my soul”, this gave me the boost I needed to perform to the fullest of my ability. 

3. What sacrifices and challenges that people don't know of does it take to participate in a beauty competition?

Every dream or job has its own ups and downs, but the day you start pointing it out as a difficulty is when you will find it more difficult to conquer. So I wouldn’t say it’s a sacrifice but there are few things to keep in mind - 
  1. Self Love/ Self Confidence – this plays the most important role in any field you go to. Only if you are comfortable in your own skin and body is when you will feel comfortable flaunting it.
  2. There is no such thing as a perfect figure - you should be happy and confident in your body. A healthy body is a happy body. Fitness is key. 
  3. Patience - not everyone is lucky to achieve their dreams or goals in their first attempt, keep trying again without losing hope and success will be guaranteed in one way or another. Failures should only boost up your confidence and give you more practice and add to your experience. 
  4. Being assertive and prudent - the ability to stand up yourself, being positive, calm, and able to speak out and stand up for your own thoughts and beliefs. 

4. What is your definition of beauty and media portrayal of the same?

Everyone has different opinions and thoughts about beauty. Media portrays what is being told to them or what they see, it's their point of view which they portray. 

Beauty for me is the power and the strength that comes within you. It doesn’t matter if you are on stage or with your friends but it’s the way you carry yourself. 

For me beauty isn’t about outer appearance as outside beauty can be achieved with a handful of experts, but it's about the happiness and positivity inside you that makes you more beautiful and lets you stand apart from others. 

5. What would be your advice to all aspiring models, artists, and pageant aspirants?

We all live in this world where social media is the ideal stage that everyone looks up to. Everything is at our fingertips and just a click away, so aspiring young models can be easily tempted into fraud modeling agencies, pageants, or shoots. 

Be aware of this and enquire thoroughly about the company before signing any contracts. 

Every shoot or pageants look for different elements like confidence, generosity, kindness, etc. in their participants, so focus on those aspects more. In the end, no matter how much you try you have to be "Yourself", that’s the key to any dream or job you are looking for. 

6. What is your idea of success or your mantra in life?

My idea of success is to find happiness in every small aspect of life. Even if I didn't win a competition I am not upset because at least I gave it a try instead of regretting not participating later on. 

Life is not always about winning or coming first, it is about how you define success. I could win no prize at all and still call myself successful because I gave it my 100%, which gives me the confidence to go back and come again with double the strength to achieve my goal the second time around. 

My mantra in life is this: it is you who rules your life and that gives you the right to define success and failure according to your terms and that no one can define it for you. The more happy and positive you are the more closer you reach your goals.

- Aishwarya Saju

- Interviewed By: Amruta Liz Binoy

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