Apart from all the pomp and glamour at the India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020, there was something which drew the attention of everyone who attended the fashion event. It was Beena Malje, a 48-year-old plus-size model, who slayed the ramp with her elegance and confidence. Each time she entered the runway, the hall echoed with loud claps and hoots.
This was the first time that the India Fashion Week, organised by the Fashion Design Council of India, roped in a plus-size model to imbibe the idea of inclusivity. Mumbai-based Malje is a professional actor who has been working in Hindi film, TV serials and commercials for the last 13-14 years.
But, it was just last year when she walked the ramp for the first time after her 18-year-old daughter motivated her to start a career in modelling.
“I didn’t even know what plus-size modelling was. One day my daughter told me that in foreign countries, plus-size modelling is very much in demand and the models are seen with a lot of dignity and respect,” she said.
“She told me ‘mom, you should go ahead and do something that can make you an inspiration for many girls. You can become a role model. At this age, if you take the initiative, it will motivate them’,” Malje added.
Malje’s first experience on the ramp was in Mumbai modelling for a US-based fashion brand catering the plus-size market.
“My daughter took me for the audition and I was selected. I had no idea of it beforehand. But the experience was awesome. I have worked on the camera but walking live in front of the audience and when you get claps and hoots, the boost of motivation and confidence you get is of another level. Until now, they have been doing shows with regular models and this is the first time they have included inclusivity, which means women of any age, shape and size and gender can take part,” says Malje.