Do you like keeping up with the new trends, and watch fashion shows and beauty pageants regularly? I’ve always admired people who’ve a great sense of fashion and are presentable, because I’m awfully poor at it. I’m a woman who doesn’t like to comb her hair every day, wear whatever she finds in her closet —no matter how bad it looks, doesn’t know to put make-up nor has a beauty kit, least bothered of her growing waistline, and has poor communication skills [I’m the least spoken person you could ever find on this planet].
I’ve been watching Fashion TV since schooldays. But not even once I aspired to be Miss India, Miss Universe, or even Miss Beautiful of my school. To earn such titles, one requires many fine attributes — attributes that I don’t possess. It’s a good thing that being a “miss” anything never appealed to me, or I would have felt like a complete disaster.
There was a time when I didn’t even understand the difference between fashion modelling and beauty pageant, until one fine day a close friend Chow Poran J Gogoi (Romi), who is a well-known fashion designer in northeast India gave me a brief explanation about these two. “Both are two completely different things. They may have beautiful women and handsome men parading around in various designer outfits, but the reason behind the parading is what differentiates the two. The real fashion world is all about the product and selling the product. The main purpose of fashion and runway models is to make a product look good and attract customers into buying them. On the other hand, a beauty pageant is a competition based on beauty, but will also include aspects of personality, intelligence, talent, and answers to the judge.”
Gogoi, who also judges, mentors and grooms aspiring models added that even the training in pageantry is different to that of fashion modelling. “In pageants, we usually look for the one whose feminine beauty is impressive and poised, while fashion models do not have to be conventionally beautiful. Clients demand a face that commands attention, and a body structure that will make the products look outstanding. Also, a fashion model has height restrictions, where pageantry does not.”
Well, well, this was quite a learning!
Few weeks ago, I got a chance to interact with a beauty pageant winner Priyanka Khurana Goyal, and she opened up to me about her personal life, undergoing struggle and earning fame, and her philosophies.
An epitome of grace, intelligence, and beauty, Goyal was crowned Mrs Earth 2015 at Grand Palladium Hotel Jamaica on October 18. The pageant hosted contestants, from 20 countries, who participated in various rounds such as personal interview, evening gown and high fashion modelling. And the judges evaluated the participants on the basis of beauty, intelligence, and the work that they have done towards the community and environment.
Here is the excerpt from the interview.
Q1. From earning the Mrs India title to Queen of Substance, and now Mrs Earth, you have come a long way. What kind of challenges did you face in your fashion journey?
I did everything passionately and that was the main reason I found whole journey very interesting. My preparation for the pageant needed planning and I ensured every bit was well thought over. To begin with, I had to work on my body as I am a mother of a 2-year-old. Mrs Earth is an international competition and the level of fitness expected was really high. I started training in gym as soon as I won the Mrs India title. I had been doing yoga and meditation regularly but gym was an addition to my fitness regime. Along with workout I took nutrition lessons from Baqar Nassir of Topspin which improved my skin, hair, tone, glow and internal strength. Moving on to my wardrobe preparation for the event , being an investment banker my dressing sense was up-to-date for finance world but for fashion dressing skills I got lot of support and learnings from Ritika Ramtri of Tiara. She guided me on the Mrs Earth wardrobe, styling, stage presence, onstage speaking and overall grooming. I wanted to set a benchmark so I made lot of efforts in detailing for every round. I created a coffee table book for the Q&A session ( thanks to team Huestorm), along with Vijay Kabra and team. I also made a calendar addressing all the major environmental concerns posing threat to our planet Earth. Putting up benchmarks of excellence to everything I did and living up to it was the internal challenge I faced and surmounted.
Q2. As a child, did you enjoy posing in front of the mirror and do the catwalk? Share with us when and how did you find interest in modelling?
Yes I used to love posing in front of the mirror. It is every girl’s dream to be a model while growing up. I was good in studies as well. I studied hard and got through IIM Calcutta and then into my dream job at that point- investment banking. When I settled down and had baby, that’s when the opportunity of Mrs India and Mrs Earth came to me. I believe there must be a reason that God gave me this chance at 32 and not at 20. It feels like my childhood dream has come true now. I am very thankful to everyone who has supported me in this journey.
Q3. Your academic graph has always been terrific. From being the 1st ranker in Bachelor of Information Technology to completing your MBA from IIM Calcutta with 3rd rank, and now working at one of the largest investment banks in the world, how has been the ride so far?
Ride so far has been fabulous. There as usual have been many ups and down, but ups generally get highlighted more often than the downs. Taking about my downs, you must be aware of 2008 Lehman Brothers downfall as it went through bankruptcy, 2008-2010 has been the worst year for financial markets and at the same time financial markets has undergone drastic moves of job cuts, shut downs etc. I follow two philosophies — a) you should be a firm believer in whatever you do, only take up a task if you think you can do justice to it — may it be your job, your relationship, house work, Mrs India pageant, or Mrs Earth competition. Everything I do has my stamp and that stamp needs to have value. Thus, always remember whatever you do, just do it well, put in your heart and focus into it and undoubtedly the result will be good; b) once you have done your best then just leave the rest to destiny. There is only so much you can do, prepare well and present the best picture when the need comes. Beyond a point the result is not in your control. This helps me multitask and focus on my role and not worry about the outcome much.
Q4. Has your family always supported you in your career decisions? How do you balance your personal and professional life?
My family has been always very supportive; especially my husband who believes that you should always do something that gives you happiness. He is always with me in all my decision. Managing a family needs human support and my in-laws, parents, my staff has always been there with me. I thank them for all for their constant support. In balancing different areas of my life, yoga and meditation has really helped me. I can focus on things due to practise of meditation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is my idol, and if he can do so many things in a day and that too so efficiently, I should be able to do it too. I try to follow him in multitasking.
Q5. Would you like to share with us your fitness routine?
To achieve a body that you can flaunt on Mrs Earth stage, it takes a lot of efforts. I did weights training 4 times a week, remaining three days I was doing yoga. Meditation was complimenting all these treatments on daily basis for 15 minutes. In gym, for four days I used to focus on different body parts like chest, shoulders, back, legs, triceps and biceps, while abs was every day as it needed maximum amount of work given a fact that I had delivered a baby and abs fat takes more time to burn. I also practised Surya Namaskar for overall wellbeing. This entire physical workout needs to be complimented with a right of diet which helps you achieve the desired results. Your diet need to have a good mix of nutrients, minerals and vitamins which lead to inner glow. Correct workout complimented with right diet gives you all day energy. I highly recommend people to follow a fitness regime in order to enjoy life to the fullest.
Q6. You’re born and raised in Delhi. Share with us some of your fondest memories in the city.
I have been in Mumbai for last eight years and I do miss food and festivity in Delhi. I love Chandni Chowk ke chat and street food at Kamla Nagar market. The way Delhiites celebrate life with dance, dhol, music and food is just exemplary, and I miss that a lot in Mumbai.
Q7. What do you do in your leisure time?
After Mrs Earth I don’t really get much of that luxury of leisure time but whenever I get I like cooking. I am a foodie and don’t like regular food. I love Mexican and Italian as it adds lot of flavour to my life. I also love dancing to Bollywood music. I spend time decorating my house which I feel is an extension of my creativity.