Ever wondered what it’d be like to walk down the ramp dressed up in stunning designer clothes? Well, did you pull yourself back because not so thin, not so toned, not so fair, and a lot of social stigmas pulled you back? One woman has been working hard to undo this conditioning and erase these barriers. She embraced her cultural identity long back and now is flaunting her pride to the world. She is also inspiring many people in the process. The woman is Reena Augustine. She has emerged as a global icon over the past few years and her efforts have received immense appreciation worldwide. Being a brown woman in Australia, she has done a lot to promote multiculturalism and to remove racial barriers in the fashion industry.
Growing up in an Indian city, she often wondered how unfair the world of fashion was. You have to adhere to so many social standards that don’t even make sense. She often loathed the perceptionslike ‘fair is beautiful’ and ‘thin is in’. This troubled her all the more when she reached Australia as a student and saw how ramps globally had just women of certain sizes and skin tones. She took it upon herself to change the norm and founded Red Carpet Functions, which organizes multicultural fashion shows. The models in the show come from various cultures around the world and are valued for their confidence, appeal and charisma and not for their size and colour. The show also becomes the meeting place for designers, models and others in the industry.
We talked to her about this initiative and she said that her goal is only to erase racial barriers and outdated social constructs. “Fashion is an expression, and everyone must have an equal chance to express themselves. Being a woman of colour, I have first-hand experience of how discrimination feels.I am here to make it easier for myself and others.”
Reena has also been a photographer in the past and her work on fashion shoots was greatly instrumental in helping her realize the need for such fashion shows. This also sends a message to manufacturers that they must come up with collections to cater to cultural diversity. Talking about Australia, the migrant population makes up more than 20% of the overall population and thus Reena has taken steps in the right direction.
On the professional front, Reena is a migration consultant. She has been actively involved with Red Carpet Functions and many such initiatives. She also runs the Community Impact show that also helps small businesses come to the forefront. Reena’s charismatic personality and her resolve to strengthen all cultural identities deserve a lot more recognition. We congratulate her for her efforts and wish her luck in the future.