In a world that’s size-zero obsessed, Miss Universe Nepal 2023, Jane Dipika Garrett, turned the spotlight on why it’s important to look beyond our bodies. Jane, 22, is the first plus sized model to compete in Miss Universe and secure a coveted spot in the top 20 at the finals of the 72nd annual Miss Universe competition held in El Salvador.
Jane was hard to ignore with confidence exuding on stage and a laser sharp focus on what she was there to truly represent. She became an immediate crowd favourite for her absolutely stunning walk during the pageant’s swimsuit round raking up support on social media platforms across the globe. “I got the loudest applause from the entire audience. And that felt like a breakthrough moment for me and for society,” she recalls.
Jane also garnered public support after her preliminary interview where she said, “Well as a woman who is curvy and who does not meet certain beauty standards, I am here to represent women who are curvy, who struggle with weight gain, who struggle with hormonal issues, and I believe there is not just one type of beauty standard. Every single woman is beautiful just as she is. I would use this platform, Miss Universe Nepal, to inspire women to accept themselves, to be themselves, and to be confident in their bodies just as it is.”
She has further advocated for the importance of hormonal health and PCOS and mental health among other things. “I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. This condition causes the ovaries to produce more androgens which are male hormones and can cause various symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, acne, and excessive hair growth,” she says.
Jane, who is part American, holds a nursing degree and describes herself as an advocate of body positivity. “Nursing is not my true passion. As a curvy woman who doesn’t follow certain beauty standards, I am here to represent all women. I am passionate about acting, modeling and entrepreneurship,” she reveals.
Speaking about her early days as a contestant, she says, “Women encounter ‘body police’ everywhere who rate them on their weight rather than on who they are. Growing up as a woman in today’s society often means being teased or scanned for every extra kilo that makes itself visible, thus leading to a tenuous relationship with the body. I often remind myself that my body looks like a majority of women who aren’t represented accurately and that’s why I am doing this. At the Miss Universe competition, I kept pushing myself and learning. Especially towards the preliminary round, I felt confident in myself and a lot of people started noticing me after my interview.”
Jane rang a chord with millions of women who struggle with their size, looks, colour and skin. Her inclusion in the world’s most famous beauty pageant is a win for body positivity and representation. “A few years ago, I was a very insecure person and had very low self-esteem. Now, I love myself, and that’s success to me. I think there’s not one way to be beautiful, every woman is beautiful just as they are,” she smiles.
Jane believes that healthy habits are good for everyone, fat, thin or in between. But that’s just one part of the equation. “A lot of health also has to do with genetics, environment, stress-levels. One of the worst things we can do as a society is shame people because we think they are unhealthy.” This paradigm shift in thought is not easy but it’s increasingly important today where women are pressured to look a certain way and are adopting beauty standards that are detrimental to their physical and mental wellbeing. Jane sums it up best. “You deserve to be happy and enjoy life regardless of your size. Life is too short to beat yourself up over one piece of pizza or not wearing the dress you want because you are worried about other’s opinions. If you are in the process of dropping a few pounds because that’s what you want, the first step is to love the vessel you have now, in its current form. If you don’t want to lose weight and you are happy at your size, that’s fine too. Everyone is at different stages in their journey to inner health and peace, and they should all be respected.”
Miss Universe pageant is 72 years old and the latest edition is being touted as the ‘most inclusive’ in history. “Beauty pageants celebrating only conventional (and often unrealistic) beauty standards had a harmful effect on young people who believed that ‘perfection’ came from prescribing to those standards. In a very welcome move, the Miss Universe pageant has relaxed some of its guidelines that previously promoted a very narrow idea of what ‘beauty’ can be,” shares Jane.
She concludes with a strong message, “All I can say to women who obsesses over what they perceive as bodily flaws is – you are more than your body, you are more than what you look like.”
Cover Girl: Jane Dipika Garrett @jadedipika_
Interview: Ankita Jain @jain.anki
Assisted by: Vartika Upadhyay @vartika_07
Photographer: Suzan Shrestha @suzan_shots
Stylist: Markush Tamang @marcos_blenden
Wardrobe: @azizaatelier @asharetail
Makeup: Nilima Basnet @nilima_makeup
Hospitality Partner: Hotel Himalaya @hotelhimalaya_lalitpur
Hospitality Partner: Hotel Himalaya
Nestled within 10 acres of exquisitely landscaped grounds, Hotel Himalaya is conveniently located 8 km away from the Tribhuvan International Airport and only 2 km from the Kathmandu city centre. It has always been an ideal haven for business and leisure travelers alike, offering resort ambience with an intimate touch.