Being in the limelight… | Sunday Observer

Being in the limelight…

Lights, strips of fabric, audiences, stages, heels.

Welcome to the fashion industry, a stage full of steps made with dreams and hopes.

People who participate bring along catwalks and smiles. Shining colours hit the eyes of young girls and the stage turns into a surreal world where music, suits, colours and lights get writhed inside the fashion industry ball.

Sixteen year old Angelica Perera, born and raised in Italy to Sri Lankan parents, Keerthi Perera and Rasika Koralage; found her shining moment in the Miss Grand Prix National beauty contest, winning the Miss Grand Prix Auto (car) nomination on July 21. Finals will be held in September in Puglia.

Angelica is in the third year at the Enrico Fermi high school in Novara (Italy). After school she does many activities. For the past 11 years she learnt ballet and recently she started learning tip tap which is totally different genre in dancing. She is also involved in theatre at school and it is a part of her school curriculum. In addition to these activities, she is also a member of the New Faces Company in Milan, which was formed with the intention of introducing young people to the fashion, television and entertainment industries.

Through this company Angelica got the chance to take part at the National Miss Grand Prix beauty pageant competition (year range between 14 and 30).

This competition is held all over Italy. Each Italian region nominates two winners, Miss Grand Prix Auto (car) and Miss Grand Prix Moto (bike) - it also has a male section with Mr Talent nomination and The model of Italy nomination.

This year in September all these nominees will go to Puglia for the pre-finals. And then at the finals the winner will be the godmother of the car and bike races of that particular year.

Unlike the other participants, for Angelica this is her first experience in a beauty pageant. Anyway, the years of ballet took her to the same level as the other girls in terms of posture and facing an audience; even if “anytime you face an audience, it always seems the first time”.

Heart beats, excitement, fear, trying to have fun, a cocktail of emotions.

“I’ve never thought about taking part in a beauty pageant. But when they nominated me I thought it would be fun and I accepted mostly because of the support of my parents and my younger sister (Amanda Perera). never thought I would be able to win”, says Angelica with excitement.

For her, being a model is just only a stepping stone towards achieving her biggest dream in life. To become a paediatric surgeon. This is her childhood dream and her only aim is to help children.

She believes that through the fashion industry a way to grow and sustain her dream.

Entering the fashion industry is like going inside the cage of a lion. It’s a competitive and extremely tiring process.

However, despite her young age, her ideas are clear.

Conforming to the social canons of female beauty goes against her way of thinking and being.

“Beauty is something subjective that can’t be standardised”, it has to be built firstly on our own eyes and then shown to the world in our own unique way. My aim is to be beautiful without ever getting conditioned by external judgments,”

This of media has conditioned many women in the world, most of the time it places them in the black hole of being skinny, the darkness of depression, anorexia and bulimia. These are illnesses that can’t be cured so easily.

Italy had seen many of this over-the limit cases. Parents are worn out when their children enter this dark mental vortex.

“I know that it is a bad thing to say, but sometime I wish my daughter had a tumor rather than anorexia first and bulimia then. Because in a tumor, at least you can hope for a light at the end of the tunnel, but anorexia and bulimia destroy hope, they are never ending tunnels. And it’s destroying us”, says a mother in an Italian newspaper. Her daughter suffered from anorexia for many years and after many treatments she recovered, but she exprienced bulimia.

Angelica is well aware of all these issues and she is determined to go straight on her way without getting conditioned badly, refusing all those suggestions which ask her to change her body.

In Sri Lanka, media has a different influence. Girls follow Western fashion icons of their same age with skimpy clothes and try to follow their different lifestyles which are totally fabricated by the media. They find role models in them forgetting their own personality and uniqueness. They hardly realise that these are just images designed only to impress and they believe these fabricated lifestyles are the reality and find life in a different context.

“Girls in Sri Lanka must be confident about their beauty, because Sri Lankan beauty is something unique and different. We have to carry that unique identity which is in our own genes,” says Angelica.

It’s August and she’s enjoying the summer and prepairing for the competition which will be held in September this year. These are the best years of her life. She is dreaming about her future while living steadily in the present.

“Youngsters have to live their lives and build the lives in their dreams and wishes in reality” that’s her vision in life.

Judith Mitchel is a freelance writer, blogger and studies Educational Science at the University of Verona, Italy. Born and bred in Italy to Sri Lankan parents she has always been interested in writing short stories but most of all in journalism. She writes weekly for her blog BACKpacker Moms.