Srishti Aggarwal was crowned Raj Suri Miss India Australia 2019, a pageant dedicated to women of Indian-origin that celebrates 'real women rather than focusing on their height and body weight'.
A 22-year-old Macquarie University business student from Sydney is using an international pageant platform to make an important point about body image, as she is getting ready to strut her way into the 28th edition of Miss India Australia Worldwide 2019 slated to be held in Mumbai on September 7.
Srishti Aggarwal shed 20 kilos before entering the Raj Suri Miss India Australia pageant and scooped the title with her sheer confidence and conviction.
The reigning Miss India Australia who is currently in India for the grand finale told SBS Punjabi that her transformation isn’t just about winning a pageant title, “It’s about setting an example for those who find it too hard to overcome denial.”
“I honestly never thought I was fat despite people telling me that I was. Then one day, I broke out of that denial and set on this journey to lose extra kilos through healthy means. I never joined a gym, just walked for an hour every day for six months and resorted to eating healthy,” said Ms Aggarwal.
“I have always wanted to enter a pageant. I’m glad I did it and set an example for those struggling with obesity,” she added.
Miss India Australia contestants are marked on the basis of their overall personality, achievements and talent and less on their physical beauty, claims the man behind the contest, Raj Suri, a film producer and an avid photographer.
“Miss India Australia does not follow a minimum height or weight criteria in women. It truly celebrates the ‘real woman’ - Indian Australian diversity.
Mr Suri says he believes that Miss India Australia is a woman who can lead by example and inspire the next generation of women of Indian-origin who now call Australia home.
“These are diverse Indian Australian women, with dreams and it is important for us to give and share our experience with them for the next generation.
“It’s very easy and dare I say laziness on our part to just follow the existing Indian celebrities. But it takes effort, dedication and persistence to empower everyday ordinary youth to truly harness their strengths to become the role models of future - of Indian Australia,” Mr Suri added.
Seetal Sarai, founder of a Mumbai-based fledgeling modelling agency told SBS Punjabi that if there’s anything such contests teach us is that pageant winners and models are people too.
“I am glad that such pageants are being contested across the globe because not only go a long way in empowering real women but also calls out to those conscious of their body image and often sitting at home hiding in baggy clothes. That hey-its okay to be a size 10 or more as long as you’re healthy,” said Ms Sarai.
Founded in 2001, the pageant crowned its first winner in 2003 and has since empowered myriads of women, many of whom have successfully carved their niche in film industries across the globe.