Proving naysayers wrong : Dnyaneshwari on regaining her identity

Dnyaneshwari came to Singapore back in 2013, to pursue her studies in fine arts and hone her skills as a young artist. It’s not been an easy journey for her in our little island city and it has truly taken a lot of courage for her to take part in this pageant. Many detractors did discourage her, but it was her shrill willpower that has brought her to the beauty runway today. We talk to her to find more about this life-changing experience for her and how this pageant has helped her regain her identity.

Why did you decide to join this pageant?

I needed a transformation and I thought this pageant could push me towards that. I’ve been dealing with health issues since 2015 and needed help with my body. I have been diagnosed with a condition that is going to remain with me throughout life and I needed something to help me change and improve the way I live my life. While I’m studying fine arts at Lasalle College of the Arts,  I also have an interest in fashion and this pageant seemed like a great opportunity for me to put myself out there and express myself in the best way I know how. So I just thought why not give it a shot and see how far I go.

What challenges have you faced in this journey?

When I first signed up for this pageant, people whom I considered my friends asked me “Why are you doing this? It’s shameful, you’re not meant to be in a pageant!”. Hearing such words from people you know hurts so much more than they would if you had heard them from a stranger. So I was really heartbroken for a while and just felt completely lost.

Another challenge was when I came to Singapore and changed schools. In my first year, I was at Informatics Academy where I flourished and was quite happy. I was getting really good grades and making lots of great friends. But then in my second year, I enrolled in Lasalle College and that was where I faced my first hurdle. I’m from India and back in my school over there, you were encouraged to put all your emotions and feelings onto a painting. In Lasalle, it was all about drawing to a concept and it was difficult for me to meet the teachers’ expectations. Their art style and thinking were completely different from mine. So I became afraid to be myself and showcase my art style.

I was also really into sports back in India and used to be the fastest runner in school in those days. My classmates used to argue over who’s team I’d be in because they felt that I would be able to win the game for them.When I came to Singapore, I lost out on all that and didn’t really go far in games and activities. So for a period of time, I completely lost who I was and pretty much, wasn’t staying true to my identity.

How did you overcome these challenges?

It was actually this pageant which helped me a lot. As I went along, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, put my problems aside and just went out there to show my stuff. I really struggled initially with putting myself out there but the encouragement and motivation from the organisers, the other contestants and my family have really helped me come out my shell.  I was afraid to be myself and it was this pageant that allowed me to regain the identity I had lost.  It has encouraged me to show who I really am to the world.

The fitness sessions have helped a lot as well. My diet was never a problem but due to the steroids I take on a regular basis, I tend to put on weight. So I was not strong enough to do some of the exercises. The fitness trainers know about my health problems and they cater exercises for me that I’m able to do and yet push me physically and mentally. Through these sessions, I’ve been doing lots of sports, especially boxing, and nowadays, when I don’t do boxing or dance or yoga or at least go to the gym on a daily basis, I don’t feel like myself at all. Fitness and sports have become part of a daily routine for me. I now know what’s been missing in my life and feel that I can accomplish anything. I just needed a slight push to be myself and this pageant gave me that push. This is supposed to be a competition but I never thought of it that way. The fight is within myself, and right now, I’m winning.

Regardless of whether you win or not, what would you like to do after this pageant?

I often tell myself to not think about the future too much and to just take things as they come.  I have a feeling that there are others out there who have felt the same way I have and through this platform, I want to be a motivation to them. I never want them to think they are alone and regardless of whether I win or not, would like to be there for people just the way people have been there for me through this pageant and otherwise. I’d like to also get some working experience in the fine arts industry after graduating from Lasalle before going on to do a degree.

My ultimate goal is to open a school. Not just for art, I want to open a school where you can study whatever you want and they will offer modules from art and archery to science and mathematics. But until you're 10th grade, you have to learn all the basic skills. Nowadays, many of us live in modern cities and can’t do without our phones or technology. But I think everyone needs be equipped with certain basic life skills such as farming and self-defense. Every person should know how to grow their own crops and be able to defend themselves. I want to help mould the younger generation into strong and independent people.

What quote or expression would you print on a T-shirt that embodies your values and beliefs?

Don't be afraid to be yourself and never underestimate what you can accomplish

Miss and Mrs Singapolitan Islandwide 2017 will be shown on Vijay TV and Star Plus, starting from 26th May. You can also catch the action on Youtube.


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