'Modelling Not a Dark World, it's All about Personal Choices'

By Shilpa Raina

New Delhi, Jun 30 (IANS): With former supermodel Viveka Babajee committing suicide, the fashion industry is again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Experts and the fashion fraternity, however, feel that the incident is not a reflection on the industry but on how you personally deal with a situation.

According to psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh depression can hit anyone at any point in time, at any stage in life.

"It perhaps gets more noticed amongst certain sections or groups due to one's social status in society. It has nothing to do with a specific profession," Chugh told IANS.

"The high stress and demands of the profession can make one emotionally weak and fragile, ultimately forcing one to shut all the doors forever," he added.

Choreographer Liza Varma, who is also a former Miss India finalist, said: "It will be very wrong to blame the fashion industry for such suicides. A lot depends on the character of a person - if he or she is strong enough to overcome emotional stress."

"There are so many things happening around. But just because a popular personality has committed suicide, the media frantically starts reporting about it. If you look around, there might be women committing suicide in Meerut or Kanpur, but no one is reporting that," she pointed out.

In the case of Babajee, who was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her Bandra flat last week, her apparent split from boyfriend Gautam Vora triggered the incident.

Earlier, former Miss India Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in 2004 while model-turned-TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa committed suicide in 2006.

The other side of the fashion industry was well portrayed in Madhur Bhandarkar's "Fashion" that showed back-stabbing, work pressure as well as competition taking their toll on a model's life.

So, is this suicide tendency more prominent among female models? Chugh disagrees.

"Reports are often heard amongst of models, actors, pop stars and other artists committing suicide and there is no indication of it being higher or only among females," said Chugh.

"Women fashion models continuously have to take care of their body and appearance as that is where their bread and butter comes from. Glamour, glitz and media often inadvertently put a lot of emphasis on the body image and that can put a lot of pressure on women," he added.

Chugh felt loneliness is one of the factors that can push an individual to commit suicide.

"In the process of climbing up the ladder to success, one may encounter bitter experiences and rude shocks that could result in relationships going sour. This could eventually make you feel lonely at the top too," Chugh pointed out.

"The trick here is not to succumb to pressures but move on," he added.

Designer Rahul of label Sairali said: "There are so many insecurities and back-stabbing (in the fashion world) that at the end of the day, when you come home, you are a loner."

"You have nothing to look forward to once you go back home. There is a certain age for women to settle down and once you cross that, no one will marry you. So this puts added pressure on a female model, whose world crashes once she crosses 30," he added.

Professional model Laxmi Rana didn't agree and said that modelling is one of the most flexible career options because one can pick and choose assignments and prioritize one's life.

"It's all in your hands. I am married and so are many other models and they all are successful and balancing their personal and professional life as well," Rana said.

"So, you have to pick and choose from the various options and be clear about what you want in life," she added.


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