When it comes to our ideas of fashion and beauty, we have come a very long way. The tectonic shift from coveting supermodel-thin bodies and flawless fair skin fixation to a more wholesome, inclusive ideal has changed the way we perceive fashion. We are moving towards a time where there are no rights or wrongs, and soon, there will be no rules to follow and no need to fix or hide ourselves. Here are five strong, powerful and beautiful women, each so unique in her own right, who represent (un-Photoshopped) versions of beauty that will restore your faith in fashion and yourself.

Pallavi

Pallavi Singh
25, Model

“I have learnt to not care about unsolicited opinions. I am done with people criticising me for the way I look or act. If my actions don’t hurt anyone, I am free to wear what I want to or behave in a manner I find best. I’m not going to be apologetic about who I am.”

This fashion designer-turned-model is an advocate of individuality and self-expression. She knows how to hold her own—at 5 feet 10 inches, she towers over everyone else in the room, loves her independence and has strong opinions—whether the discussion is about politics or fashion. When she gets the time off from her busy schedule, she goes travelling or learns dance to channel her creative energy.

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Krithika Iyer
25, Actor/Model

For us to become more accepting of ourselves, we need to be more accepting of women around us. When women become more accepting of other women, men will be more accepting of us and we can have a shot at equality.

Ex-lawyer, model and now a theatre actress, Krithika is multi-talented and versatile. She is proud of who she is – from her skin tone to her Tamilian lineage. Also an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer, she believes her biggest strength is her earnestness.

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Laila Dalal
30, Hair and Make-up Artist

I have for many years of my life been rather insecure about my body, but I’m blessed with a wonderful support system of friends and family. I soon realised that it all lay within me to accept and love myself. Not the reassurance of anyone around me.

Laila may come across as friendly and fun but she is nevertheless fiercely confident. She loves what she does and thinks of her vocation as a means to find self expression. She thinks of hair, make-up and fashion as a strong tool when it comes to finding and establishing your identity. She loves her curves, her Parsi upbringing, wears what she wants to and will never make excuses for being herself.

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Rachel Varghese
29, Musician

Time helps in understanding the futility of insecurities, because you realise your beauty lies in your uniqueness, individuality and strength. Not in your insecurities and media-bred stigma. Self acceptance is a process.

Tall, dusky and gorgeous, Rachel is a presence in any room she walks into. Her warm smile and friendly nature deviate from the fact that she is an accomplished musician. After quitting her sales job with on of the biggest corporate names in the country, she ventured on her own path and dedicated herself to music. Today, she is the voice of a number of TV commercials, Bollywood songs and her own band.

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Paloma
27, DJ, Model and TV Anchor

Fashion and beauty magazines are finally slowly starting to portray women in their real form by cutting down on the extreme photoshop and air brushing. Women need to learn how to love themselves and be self confident, only then will they gain respect from others. Focus more on leading a healthy lifestyle and being fit. There is no such thing as a perfect body because perfection is subjective.

This petite model is a riot on the set with her highly energetic ways and unique features. Her ethnicity includes Tibetan and Coorgi genes and her unique features are becoming of her identity. This multi-faceted model has seen it all and done it all – from acting and DJ-ing to surfing.

Photographs by Taras Taraporvala; Stylist: Anushka Mulchandani; Models: Pallavi Singh, Krithika Iyer/ Inega Model Management, Laila Dalal, Paloma Monnappa, Rachel Varghese; Hair & Makeup: Sandhya Shekar; Production: Apoorva Singh

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