Kanishtha Dhankar is proving she's more than just another pageant winner with her fiery personality and racing career.
The 23-year-old with a firecracker personality won't let you believe she's that young-exhibiting the wisdom of an old soul and the confidence of an industry veteran. 2011's Miss India, Kanishtha, won the title of 'Beauty With A Purpose' at the Miss World competition and we can totally see why. The one thing she's learned in the last two years? "Confidence! It's really a reflection of your personality. It's about being happy from within, and content with who you are and what you have in your life." And she's letting Cosmo in on the secrets to this enviable self-assuredness.
On body image
"Like every other woman out there, I've tried skipping meals when I was younger and done silly stuff like that, but I've never had weight issues. I've been a skinny girl, ever since I can remember. In fact, I'd have liked to put on more weight. It's only recently that I realised being attractive or sexy isn't just about having ample cleavage or a perfect posterior, it's about accepting your body for what it is, imperfections and all, and loving it nevertheless. Confidence is sexiest.
My top tip? Never compare yourself to anyone else. You're unique. It shouldn't matter what the world thinks of your size; in fact, I don't even know what the 'perfect' dress size should be! Talking from an insider's perspective, don't get fooled by everything you see on TV or in magazines. Keep it real. There's a lot of Photoshop-ing happening that makes everyone appear more glamorous. It can do horrible things to your selfesteem. Do a little research and you'll find that nobody's perfect. Know it and own it."
On stage fright
"I remember my first ever fashion show. I was so nervous that my body was trembling! I dreaded going on stage. When you're opening a show or wearing an important outfit, you know there's a lot riding on your performance and you can feel your heart thumping in your ears. At times like these I like to give myself a little pep talk about how I was hand-picked for the job and that means I'm good enough for it. I derive my confidence from that. You can adapt this motivational talk in any situation, like when you have an important work presentation. Feel good about what you've achieved and the fact that you've made it this far."
On being stuck in a awkward situation
"Luckily, I haven't been in too many 'err...' situations. Though recently, I was at a party and someone who seemed to know me greeted me. I couldn't remember his name! Awwwkward. I just decided to wing it, hoping he would introduce himself before I could say anything, which he did! Phew! Obviously, one isn't so lucky every time. A great way to get out of an uneasy situation is to make a big joke out of it. Try something like, 'You know, I can't quite place you as I forgot to take my memory pills this morning...' If it's something that could embarrass someone in a group, just laugh it off before it gets to that weird point. This way, everyone tends to forget about it and move on to the next topic. I don't like to make anyone feel awkward or embarrassed and this trick works like a charm every time. But remember, timing is everything!"
On following her dreams
"When I told my parents I wanted to be a model, my dad just said one thing, 'If your grades suffer, you'll have to stop'. I remember, my first LakmÃ© Fashion Week happened a week before my final exams. As soon as the shows ended, I locked myself up in my room and studied hard. I ended up scoring better than ever. I firmly believe that if you want something, work hard and you'll achieve it.
Always send out positive energy into the universe, it'll come back to you without a doubt, I'm learning that now. We're all so self-critical, striving to be bigger and better all the time. I know it's hard to let go of that inner voice that's always telling you you're not good enough or you're too fat or thin. But I try to keep life simple and not get carried away by things. You're the only one stopping yourself from succeeding. Most importantly, never forget who you are and don't lose yourself in the process of achieving your dreams."
On trying a daring fashion trend
"When you're apprehensive about wearing an edgy piece or look you haven't tried before, work everything around that. For example, if I were to style a sheer skirt, I'd wear it with a half-sleeve, long top (that covers my bum) and anklelength booties. That way I'd hide my lady bit and still show off the sexiness of the skirt.
Find that one piece in your wardrobe that makes you feel like you can take on the world. For me, it's my favourite black, structured shoulder blazer. I absolutely love it. I'd wear it over anything and feel good. So when you're trying out something new, pair it with your most-loved piece and you'll be swimming in the warm feeling of familiarity that'll be a confidence boost."