“If you were a bit fairer, you would have looked more beautiful.” In our society, people who are ‘dark in complexion’ have to bear with such ridiculous remarks all through their life. Does color define beauty? Not at all, says Maria Francis, who was crowned the Manoramaonline-Joy Alukkas Miss Millennial 2017 recently.
She is somebody who has proved that it’s not skin tone that matters but your attitude and ‘positive energy. Maria charmed the judges and the audience alike to win the title unanimously, defying the standard beauty pageant stereotypes.
In a free-wheeling chat with Manoramaonline, Maria talks about her Miss Millennial title win and her plans for the future.
Excerpts from the interview:
Living my dreams
It was a dream come true for me and a proud moment for my parents. There is nothing satisfying than making your parents proud. They shed happy tears when I was declared the winner. I can’t forget the moment when my parents stood beside me on the stage. Not every parent would get such an opportunity. I received phone calls from lots of friends who were also quite ecstatic and proud.
My strength is my confidence
To be honest, winning the title was not even in my wildest dreams. It was my friends who prodded me to give the Miss Millennial contest a try. I was not very optimistic about my chances when I sent my photographs to the organizers. It came as a shock to me when I got selected for the audition. I could not believe even when I made it to the list of 21 final contestants. I felt that I might win any of the subtitles. There were people around who thought I was photogenic, so I believed I had a chance to win the ‘Miss Photogenic’ sub-contest. Ramp walk was not my strong suit before, but I could improve it considerably with the help of choreographer Jude sir.
I was at a loss for words when I was named the winner of the beauty pageant. In fact, I was over the moon with joy. I always believed we can achieve anything with right intent and confidence. The Miss Millennial contest taught me the same lesson. I cannot forget the support and tips offered by Jude sir during the grooming sessions. All the twenty-one finalists too motivated and boosted my confidence.
My curly mane
During my college days, nobody among my friends had such curly and unruly hair. I used to tie it up as I was too lazy to do my hair on a daily basis. Only later I realized that my hair was my best feature by far. I’m blessed to have such a unique hair. Many people have told me that it was my identity. I had very long hair before I cut it short. Many have suggested me to straighten my hair.
The concept of beauty
I don't really pay much attention to makeup. Sometimes I wear lipstick and eyeliner. That’s all. It was during the grooming sessions that I became aware of the importance of the way you look and carry yourself. I believe in the concept of 'beauty from within’. Beauty is only skin deep, and inner beauty is what really counts. I never judge another person by external appearance. It is their positive energy, confidence, and kindness that attract me.
I’m proud of my skin color
During my school days, my classmates used to ridicule the color of my skin. But even when I entered the modeling industry, I never felt I was at a disadvantage because of my dark skin. Moreover, after winning the Miss Millennial title, many have started telling that I got the looks of an international model. I’m grateful to Manoramaonline for making people realize that. I have only one thing to tell dark-complexioned people who believe skin whitening and fairness creams would help them look better: you should give priority to protect your natural skin color rather than trying to lighten your complexion!
Smile is the best accessory
I don’t really know what brings positive energy into my life. During the grooming sessions, the yoga and meditation classes of Nutan Manohar madam had helped me a lot to keep a positive mindset. Even if I’m tensed, I like to sport a smile and stay calm and happy. I think such an attitude will inspire people around you to be positive as well. Moreover, I love being the reason for someone's smile.
I’m excited to return to college and share my joy with my friends there. Completing the fashion designing course is my first priority before pursuing something else. I’m aware of the fact that being the winner of a high-profile beauty pageant places a greater responsibility on me. I’m also looking forward to doing my bit for the society.
My biggest ambition is to make a mark in international modeling. I also want my designs to reach more people. However, my first love will always be modeling. I always longed to see my photograph on the cover of fashion magazines like Vogue.
I love acting. If I get a good offer, I will definitely accept it. let’s wait and see.
My mother is a native of Kottayam while my father hails from Idukki. I was born in Pala in Kottayam district. My brother is a Plus Two student. They all live in Delhi now. I’m currently doing my degree in Fashion Designing at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kannur. During vacations, I travel to Delhi to visit my family.