Column: Nikita Anand

Beauty buzz

Appearances seem to be everything among India’s urban youth. Teenage girls look up to pageant winners as role models. As a result, young women are hungering to be a part of the glamour industry. And the result is a boom in the Indian beauty business writes Miss India Universe 2003 Nikita Anand

What does beauty mean to you?” This is probably the most frequently asked question since I won the Miss India Universe title in 2003. And it is probably the most rehearsed question by every aspiring beauty pageant contestant. For some, its good looks, for others, its skin deep. Well, for me, its just anything that can bring a smile on my face… They say, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Nonetheless, its meaning changes with every passing day. 

Life changed for me after I won the title. I no longer had the time to think about the next minute. I was taken from one launch to the other, one metro to another. And within a week, it was time to fly to Dubai for the inauguration of the Dubai Shopping Festival! Thereafter, travelling became a regular affair. 
Another wonderful experience was participating in the Miss Universe pageant. Though my health completed failed, still the entire experience of being amongst 72 other contestants from all over the world, learning new languages, discovering new cultures was exhilarating, to say the least. 

Men spend considerable time grooming themselves. An average male spends an hour and a half in the salon today

The beauty business has always had a hold on women’s lives. It existed as early as the Mohenjodaro and Harappan civilisations where women were known to apply lip balms and eye shadows. Not so long ago, Indian women were limited to two brands of lipstick and cream. But now, post market liberalisation, urban India’s middle and upper class women have experienced a revolution in commercial beauty products and beauty culture. And the reason is quite apparent. 

A significant year for Indian women was 1994. The year Sushmita Sen won The Miss Universe title followed by Aishwarya Rai bagging The Miss world title. I heard something rather interesting the other day: “Blame it on the beauty queens”!! Ever since India’s beauties began bringing home international crowns the beauty industry has not looked better. One cannot just overlook the number of international beauties our country has thrown up in the past decade. Teenage girls look up to pageant winners as role models. 

Not only has the cosmetic industry benefited, but also the numerous closed linked industries. There has been a rapid growth in the number of cosmetic surgery clinics, fitness and nutrition-diet centres. Fitness has become a huge industry with every second person joining gyms and fitness centres in the hope of shedding that extra weight. Beauty is not just about looking good, its about feeling good too as is apparent by wellness centres and spas that have opened up all across the country. That’s not all. The Indian youths of today are very conscious of how they’d appear and will even go that extra step to ‘groom and develop’ their personality! All this has made the beauty industry a $3 billion business in India. 

I am currently the brand ambassador of Dabur Vatika and for Club Olympus at The Hyatt Hotel, Delhi. I have also been the brand ambassador for Helpage India where I adopted 3 grannies. I once visited an old age home in Delhi and came across a 65 year old lady and was amazed and inspired by her zest for life. She had been abandoned by her son and had been living in that home for about 20 years but she was so full of life. That’s beauty for me. 

Quoting Renuka Choudhary, minister of state for tourism, “Beauty and wellness is not something frivolous, but serious business”. This only emphasises the growth and progress of the Indian beauty business. It’s here to stay. And how.

January 2006

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