As one early October evening fades into the night, the conversation meanders towards dreams turning into realities. “I have always believed dreams come true and I am giving it my best to live my dreams,” says Muna Gauchan, a recognised name in Nepal’s fashion industry. She has been on magazine covers, done extensive fashion shoots, is loved by photographers, and walks the ramp with oomph. But Muna wanted more, she wanted to go international and this pursuit led her to India. She found her way into a fashion reality show called MTV Super Model of the Year; not a small feat as she was competing with strong contenders, away from home. “I feel more than winning or losing, the thing that mattered most is how much impact you can create,” shares Muna who made it to top six. In the process, she was noticed and appreciated by industry stakeholders as much as by her fans who saw the sheer determination with which she presented herself.
Miss Eco Nepal 2019, Muna Gauchan in a conversation with WOW’s Ankita Jain talks about what it means to be young woman, to be Nepali, and to be in an industry that is volatile to say the least, here today, forgotten tomorrow. Excerpts:
What is it like being a woman in Nepal?
A woman of Nepal is amazing and beautiful. We are very strong, honest and kind, and this makes us beautiful. However, we do tend to waste our time listening to other people, seeking opinions and validation from society which often stops us or pulls us back from going after and achieving bigger dreams. To do something, to be someone, we have to stop thinking about what others think of us.
How can women be better allies to other women?
We have many similarities and emotions that connect us to one another. If we start supporting each other to grow, to do better, to have healthy competition instead of developing jealousy, and if we are kinder to one another, we can be great allies.
How have your dating experiences been as a woman of today?
I have always been very particular and picky. For me to like somebody is very tough. For me to be interested, the person needs to be way better than my expectations, have a great personality and a kind heart, if not, it’s straight to the friend zone. Being a workaholic and career oriented, I’ve always been very self obsessed about my dreams, career, studies and that leaves me with very little time to think about relationships and men. So far, I have dated only one person. Also when it comes to relationships, I am very old school.
Are women here open about sex?
No we are not. We are born and raised with certain rules of society that portrays sex as something horrible, something you shouldn’t indulge in before marriage. And because of this people are secretive about it and young women and girls often get into trouble due to lack of awareness. I think it’s something we should be very open about, talk about, own our desires and feel proud of it.
Do you think Nepali woman are allowed to have desires and dreams?
If we just look at women living in the cities, yes they do have desires and will to turn those into reality. On the other hand, if we look at the majority of women living in the remote areas of Nepal, they don’t even realise that they have a dream. We all have elderly people in our family who teach the daughters of their household to live their entire life sacrificing for others. Only a few women are educated and aware and dare to follow their dreams and desires. They are the role models that are helping other women get past these age old beliefs. At the end of the day, I feel if we want something, we can make it happen. Most of us only need a little push and effort to make things happen.
Safety is seen as a gender issue. What is your experience?
At one point or the other, every Nepali woman must have gotten comments like – “Don’t stay out till late”, “Don’t wear short dresses”, “Girls need to be extra careful”, etc. I wonder why we aren’t told – “You are strong like your brother”, “You don’t need to be extra careful, learn self-defense”, etc. We are never taught how to deal with situations, we are rather taught to not face that situation. Society should teach men how they should behave with young girls and women. We should strongly work towards making a safe environment rather than constantly making women feel vulnerable.
Do you feel pressurised to stay updated on your social media accounts?
I really don’t feel pressurised while constantly posting on social media as it’s something I really love doing. Taking pictures, making content, styling myself is something I enjoy doing and I can do it every day for my entire life.
When do you feel at your strongest?
Getting love and support from my family and achieving my goals makes me feel the strongest.
Is there something about yourself that you’ve changed and are proud of?
I have always been very shy and an introvert. I used to feel very conscious around people. I worked hard to learn to be confident. Seeing myself now become strong and independent really makes me feel proud of myself.
Who is a woman that inspire you?
My mom is someone who inspires me every day. She is a strong and fearless woman.
Photographer: Suzan Shrestha
Director of Styling: Puran Joshi
Wardrobe: Natraj (Instagram: natrajtheboutique)
Accessories: ne nepal
HMUA: Suni Magar