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Willoughby Living

October 22, 2016

Diya Abraham

“My whole foray into modelling started in India in 1995. I thought we were such a conservative South Indian family but my dad got it into his head that I was destined for something bigger, and he entered me into India’s first ever Elite Look of the Year Pageant. I didn’t win but I got heaps of work after it, so all through uni I modelled and I had my own money and the whole lifestyle. I could help my parents out with things that we needed – that felt really good. After uni, a close girlfriend was hell-bent on us entering Miss India, so we did. It was so much fun. We moved into a seven star hotel for two months, with all the other contestants. We took over a whole floor and had access to the best fitness trainers, and people were flown in from other cities to give us etiquette training and teach us skincare and beauty regimens. I ended up coming fourth, and was then sent to represent India in the Miss International Pageant in Kyoto. I was really just going on a lark because it was an overseas trip and I got to see Japan, but when I got there I realised how big of a deal it was. Miss Venezuela came first and I came second. Afterwards we were both wined and dined constantly and cut innumerable ribbons and read books to children in classrooms – everything that you would think typical pageant winners do. I was given the most beautiful but impractical crown, which now has pride of place in my parents’ home. My mother still brings it out if the slightest hint of interest is given from any passing visitor. My daughter, who has grown up here, also likes to wear it when we travel back to India. She has no idea about my ‘previous life’. Sometimes she sees the photos and asks ‘Mummy, why are you wearing all that crazy make-up?”

Photo: Kirsten Delaney

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