One can always associate individuals of different ambitions, interests and personality traits in a diverse country like India. In today’s era, with a reasonable, if not substantial reduction in the gender inequality, one often comes across independent, ambitious women in different work sectors. Undoubtedly, the glamour industry is the most sought after industry. It is quite common to see modeling schools being set up in every by lane, which is a direct indication of many individuals trying to convert their inclination towards the glamour world into a full time profession. These schools promise to teach you the walk, the attitude and other ingredients necessary to announce your arrival in the glittering world, including movies. A young, confident girl is always fascinated by the attention a model gets and would have had a secret desire of being admired in various magazines and billboards across the world. The glamour industry apparently seems to have everything ranging from a glamorous lifestyle to lots of money, name and fame. However, not many are aware of the dark side of the glamour world which has left many souls in a state of eternal dejection and helplessness.
The instant acquisition of fame is the main reason which draws many young adults to the glamour of the fashion industry. However, in due course of time, they realize that it involves long hours, hectic schedules and strict diets. It doesn’t take long before these ambitious individuals get lost in the big, bad world, where there is ruthless competition in every step of ascent to the top. Unpredictability of personal relationships, lack of privacy, high depression levels and ever increasing ego problems with the competitors also pop up with time. For some, the pressure is too much to bear, and, the only ways to get rid of unwanted tensions is to either end life abruptly or develop affiliation with life threatening drugs.
One always gets to hear a lot of motivational stories about eminent personalities who have made it from rags to riches. However, the saga of Geetanjali Nagpal, an Indian model of the nineties is hard to believe. After having sashayed down the ramp with the likes of Sushmita Sen and other super models, she was rescued from the pavements of Delhi by a team from the Delhi Commission for Women when found begging on the streets. News reports had stated her to be a drug addict. However, many believe that the lack of ability to keep up to the pressure of the fashion arena was the main reason which made her succumb to the pressures.
Renu Rathi hails from Gurgaon and belongs to a rich and prestigious family. However, on 18th December, 2008, she was found lying on the street outside her flat in Mumbai as she could not pay the rent on time. The strong desire of making it big in the glamour world forced her to break all ties with her family owing to lack of support. For two years she tried her luck in Bollywood as well, but to no avail. High levels of stress, frustration and depression got her close to smoke, drinks and drugs.
American model Sara Ziff co-directed the award-winning documentary ‘Picture me’ which presents a few cases of sexual assault in the fashion industry. She also speaks about how she was asked to strip completely even when her breasts had not developed fully. Such cases of exploitation are quite common in the glamour industry.
A 15-year-old model from Slovenia had come to Milan with high aspirations. However, she found herself caught up in the wrong circle and was later raped and wound up in a hospital. In 1998, a 19-year-old Israeli beauty queen was raped at knifepoint by a travel agent when she landed up in Italy for auditions.
There are many instances in which the models are made to look back and reevaluate their decisions. The death of Viveka Babajee almost a year ago had caught everyone’s attention. After a successful stint with modeling in Mauritius and a few controversies, she migrated to India where she achieved celebrity status instantaneously through some high-profile ads, and a few Bollywood flicks from 2000 to 2004. She had carved a niche for herself in the professional front but could not cope with the pressures in the personal front. It was 25th of June 2010, when she was found dead hanging by her ceiling fan in her flat. News report she was depressed after a recent break-up with her boyfriend. This case also reminds us all of suicide of model Nafisa Joseph in 2004, and of model-turned-TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa in 2006. There are many such cases which bring the dark side of the glamour world to the fore.
Eminent personalities from the fashion fraternity believe that every individual has to cope with some kind of stress or the other in each and every field. One has to deal with the problems in his or her own way. They believe that one is responsible for one’s own life. Amidst all these discussions, they do agree unanimously that there is a bit of exposure to drugs in the fashion industry. Once pending bills and creditors start breathing down a model’s neck, it does not take her long to indulge herself in alcohol and drugs and later adapt to full time hooking. This is how girls like Viveka Babajee get trapped in from which there is no way ‘out’.
Loneliness is one of the factors that can push an individual to commit suicide. There is a famous saying that no two professionals can be friends in the glamour industry. One should be strong enough to handle different situations and people. An aspiring model must be mentally prepared to accept a lot of back-stabbing and criticisms coming her way.
Another important feature responsible for the general perspective towards the glamour world is undoubtedly the contribution of the media. It is the media which converts a one-off incident into sensational news.
Glamour industry is indeed meant only for the toughest as it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Drugs and alcohol are common feature and it is up to the individual to abstain oneself from all unfavorable acts of indulgence. It is worth pursuing as a career only if one is well aware of the pros and cons and is willing to cope with the failures. Before plunging into the glamour world, it is essential that the aspiring models have a back-up career option, as the shelf life of models is short. Finally, one cannot blame the glamour world for any kind of instability on the personal front.