When Anjali Lama walked the ramp at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2017, all heads were turned towards her and she made history as the first transgender to walk the ramp in India. Ever since, the fashion world has opened it’s doors to people from the transgender community, generating a feeling of inclusivity, which paves the way for equality. Today we witness transgenders strutting down the ramp for the biggest names in the industry and there’s really no looking back.
India’s first trans plus size super model, Dr Mona Varonica Campbell, tells us that right from her childhood, she was always inclined toward the fashion industry. “I used to watch Fashion TV, I always dreamt of walking on the runway, I wanted to be a super model and endorse big labels, both nationally and internationally,” she tells us.
Right after her transformation, Dr Mona has been fortunate enough to be in the limelight. She was titled Miss Transgender 2015, and even in her career as a celebrity makeup artist, she was listed as one of the best makeup and stylists under the label Varonica Makeup Artistry. We asked her how she felt when she was asked to walk the ramp. “When I was in Canada working with MAC cosmetics, I was directly approached by fashion agencies as they love my personality. After returning to India, I heard about Lakmé auditions on social networks and I went it for it and auditioned and cracked it. I opened the show being the show stopper for ace designer Wendell Rodricks.
However, she shares that she had mixed experiences. “Talking about good, I opened the shows for two seasons of Lakmé Fashion Week and for Wendell. He was the best part of my journey and he stood behind me, supported and fought for me to get me on the runway as a show opener. I got lot of lime light all over the globe like Ted x, BBC, Facebook, We the Women, New York Radio, Buzzfeed, Tinder, so many of them. Talking about bad experiences, few brands and designers are very insecure/ conservative and biased, thinking I will grab all the attention with my walk and attitude and personality, and dominate their respective brands and labels by being the ambassador/ show stopper after becoming India’s first plus size super model. This was one of the reasons I did not walk for Lakmé this season.”
TransQueen India 2017, Nitasha Biswas has a story to tell as well. Did she always want to be a model? “I was working as a stylist as well, so for me growing in the fashion fraternity was a part of me. I always wanted to pose and model and wanted to be a successful actor in the Bollywood industry. I always dreamt of being a very dignified and graceful woman and fulfil my dreams of becoming a successful model and actor.” She felt true contentment when asked to walk on the ramp. “I loved each moment of it, being praised by audiences while I did my catwalk with pride,” she says.
Before coming into the limelight, Nitasha had a very emotional journey, full of struggles. She tells us that she’s been friends with loneliness over years and hailed into the person she is today. Coming from Kolkata, finishing my education and then transitioning each passing day was a journey full of emotions and patience itself. However, walking the ramp made all of it worth it.
“The experience was very eventful and I just loved that I was all ready to walk for the international ramp in Thailand. I was filled with joyful tears.”
When asked about the culture in our country today, Nitasha says, “Our country is diverse with lots of people; I’m sure the movement to togetherness and acceptance has started but this is not enough. We have a lot more to do in the society in order to respect and accept each and everyone, be it caste, religion, gender, colour or creed. I wish to see an India that is strong and notified for its acceptance.” Dr. Mona gives a touch of reality and adds, “We are still narrow minded. LGBTQ is still not well respected and project offers are very limited and under paid. People still sympathise and look down on most of us, even a person who is well educated, of a good reputation and comes from a good background.”
Dr. Mona shares her plans for the future with us. “One thing I’m proud of myself is that I always have a back up plan. As I realised opportunities in our country and the opportunities for plus size modelling are very limited, and above it all being a trans woman makes it more complicated and biased.” Hence she holds a dual citizenship and permanent residency so she can explore opportunities globally. But modelling isn’t all she does. She also works as a global luxury travel life style influencer and was invited by various luxury star properties for collaborations and digital influence. “I feel proud to say that I’m the first travel luxury influencer from the LGBTQ community.” She is also the founder of Varonica Makeup Artistry, her signature label and she’s planing to launch her own clothing label soon. But currently she’s pursuing her PhD in Business at Stanford. These lovely ladies are excelling in their fields and have amazing plans up their sleeves for the years ahead. We’re sure several others in the community are looking for opportunities to chase their dreams likewise, and here’s what the two queens have to say. “I have one message and that is ‘do it right now’. Don’t shy or hide away for being yourself and the real you because each and everyone has a story to tell and inspire one another,” says Nitasha.
“First of all be happy and proud, and respect yourself. As a nation, as part of the media or whoever you may be, focus on LGBTQ community should not be just limited to pride month alone or other community issues. We should be treated equally every where and given a fair chance,” appeals Dr. Mona.