VARTIKA SINGH is India's representative to the Miss Universe 2019 pageant to be held in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8. Critical Beauty wishes this beautiful multi-faceted young woman the best of luck as she attempts to bring home India's third Miss Universe crown.
1. Why should you be Miss Universe?
It's the fact that I've built who I am from the ground up, with hard work and an insatiable hunger to learn and evolve, that gives me an unshakable kind of rootedness. I've been working towards the betterment of public health for years now, and am deeply committed to the cause irrespective of pageantry. I've also been able to build a name for myself in the fashion industry in India very quickly, and have a significant amount of professional experience in the industry.
The fact that I've been through various struggles, personal and professional, and been able to navigate them sensibly makes me want to connect with other women in the hope that my journey can help them, just as other amazing women have taught and inspired me through their lives. I'm all about building a positive community that make every single woman out there feel no less than a Miss Universe!
2. What makes you stand out from the other contestants?
It is perhaps my interest in learning about others that makes me stand out. Of course, I have my own thoughts, experiences and opinions, and I have the strongest voice speaking on issues that truly matter; but in general, in my personal interactions, I am keenly interested in listening - in having real conversations, building bonds that mean something, and learning more about other people and their cultures.
I would also like to add my journey from a small town to a big city, my professional experience, my effort, and so on, but I trust many of the other wonderful women at Miss Universe will have a similar history!
If it's lunch we're talking about, perhaps Joël Robuchon? Jokes apart, I would love to meet Jane Austen, Anne Frank, or, if I had to pick just one - Maya Angelou. These strong women with their strong voices have inspired me in numerous ways, and I would have loved the opportunity to get to know them in person. I find Maya Angelou's writing especially moving, hence the choice.
4. Describe your dream job.
I'm living it! A large part of my job requires me to keep working on myself in a well-rounded way, I get to meet the most wonderful people in all parts of the world as I shoot in different places, and I do manage to find the time to pursue my other passion - making healthcare more accessible - as well. Being Miss Universe would be a macro version of this, so, for now, I would say that is my dream job!
5. Tell us about your biggest disappointment and how you bounced back from it. Not winning the first pageant I participated in! Looking back, I feel like things couldn't have panned out any better. In the moment, yes, I was disheartened, but as a result of that, I grew so much as a person, sought out so many wonderful mentors who have brought me to where I am today, and when I tell a young girl today to not take failures to heart, I know how she feels, and I know how to guide her out of that dark place. The kind of empathy I've developed as a result is a blessing.
6. What do you think is the biggest problem facing young people today?
The biggest issue the world at large is facing today is certainly environmental damage. But for younger people, specifically, I would have to say mental health is a huge challenge. There are multiple factors leading to a kind of loneliness and apathy that isn't doing the younger generations any good. We have to find ways to reconnect and recognize each other's humanness.
VARTIKA WORKS WITH SMILE TRAIN INDIA TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT CLEFT LIP.
7. What would you say to someone that says pageantry degrades women?
I would say - try it yourself! One can sit on a high horse and judge all things, but it's not until you immerse yourself into something that you can have a valuable opinion on it. Speaking from my experience - and I do have significant pageant experience - it's a platform to discover yourself and revel in that discovery. It's a place to be the best version of yourself. I truly fail to recall any moment through all this time that I found pageantry degrading. Maybe I've just had the best people around me, but well, the truth is that this is how amazing my experience has been!
8. What was the hardest sacrifice you had to make when preparing for this pageant?
Sleep, yes, but I wouldn't say that's been the "hardest" because more often than not I myself am most excited to wake up early and hit the gym to prepare myself for Miss Universe. Giving up on time with family has been the hardest sacrifice. My schedules are blocked with preparations and various commitments, and not getting to see my parents and siblings enough is truly the only sacrifice I find hard to make.
9. Is social media bringing people together or causing separation?
I'm extremely optimistic about social media! I've been able to connect with some very interesting people from across the world, and also find it useful to stay in the know of my friends' lives. Connecting with people has become so easy thanks to social media. Any tool can be used to help or to harm; it's about how each person uses it. I highly recommend being conscious about what kind of content one consumes on their social feeds, weeding out everything that brings you down, and adding in more that inspires you.
10. If you could have any superhuman power what would it be? I'd love to heal people with a touch, or maybe even just a thought. Being in the public health sector has shown me suffering due to lack of access to healthcare, and if I could possibly have a magical power, it would certainly be to heal them all. However, if I can't do it by magic, I am determined to do it in all the real ways that I can.
Overthinking! Being empathetic is nice, but very often I find myself focused on others' feelings a little too much. I also tend to delay major life decisions because I always want a little more time to think! I've overcome many of my flaws in the last few years, and becoming more decisive is what I'm working on currently.
12. What is one thing that we would not know about you just by looking at you?
You wouldn't know that I have a green thumb! I'm a great plant mom and grow my own herbs as well.
13. Would you like to be born as a man or a woman in your next life? Why?
If, from this life, I can carry forward may understanding of what women want, I'd love to be a man in the next incarnation and make the women in my life very happy! I would also use my privilege to work towards gender equality.
A friend said to me recently, that I'm like a "calm, but unstoppable force," and I figured that's my favourite thing about myself. Like a swan, I tend to appear calm, even if I'm paddling furiously beneath the surface. That's especially useful in this industry where one must appear poised while multitasking.
15. What topic are you an expert on, and why?
I would consider myself an expert on public health, as that has been my area of education as well as professional experience.
16. Who or what inspires you and why?
My real-life interactions inspire me the most. I strongly believe, if at all one listens, everyday people have incredible stories to tell. Stories of love, of strength. Not all heroes wear capes, and I am all for seeking them out and acknowledging their heroism with all my heart.
18. If money and skill were no object, what would be your ideal career?
Even if money and skill were no object, I would want to be doing exactly what I'm doing right now!
19. What is your guilty pleasure?
I do enjoy my share of Indian sweets, although I still won't call them a "guilty" pleasure - I eat them (in moderation) with pride and joy!
20. With everything that you have going on, how will you handle the responsibilities of the crown if you are selected Miss Universe?
Since most of my other work-related responsibilities are short-term in nature, I've been able to plan my life around the Miss Universe pageant. I am more than ready to take on the responsibilities that come along with this prestigious crown, and do justice to this amazing platform.
FOLLOW VARTIKA ON HER SOCIAL MEDIA:
Photos courtesy of Vartika Singh Facebook Page.
A special shout-out to Lymarina Hayden for facilitating the interview.