Our Founder, Aabha Bakaya, talks about emancipation, about how we as women should take complete control of your own lives. It’s time we bring about fundamental changes in our outlook towards ourselves by adopting the simple mantra of ‘my body my choice’. 

If low self-esteem has been embedded in you, just decide to #BeYou and watch the world around you change, while you do too. Here’s a little something, in Aabha's words below, a message from an empowered woman, on her mission to empower women!


Watching the latest ‘Never Have I ever’ episode on Netflix I was reminded of my teenage years growing up in Australia. It wasn’t that different. We Indian girls were always super smart, which made us uncool, to begin with. Add to that the frizzy hair, unshaved legs and hairy upper lip – it made for a gawky, unattractive teen really unlikely to be asked to the school dance. And yes… we always had crushes on the same boys who went after the cool girls. Living in a new country (and we kept moving) also meant getting used to all those little mannerisms locally that were considered appropriate… by the time you figured it out you had already made some critical blunders lessening your chances of being accepted.

Eventually though… you hit your late teens and discover salons and blowouts, lose chubby fat and life begins to change… first dates, boyfriends and new outfits it’s all such a thrilling adventure. I continued to carry that impression about myself though… that something must be lacking, something unattractive, not done right. Boyfriends over the years complained about hair growth, hairstyles, weight (even at my skinniest), dress sense, the shade of lipstick and even pigmentation. I was always trying to keep up with what everyone else thought was the right way of being, that was good enough to be associated with.

Ironically today I work in a front-facing industry where it’s required that you be conscious of how you dress, make sure you appear presentable, make an impression. Over the years I’ve grown into my own style, a preference for the classic (or safe) look although my mom makes sure I wear enough bright colours and encourages me to be experimental with new looks. It’s been a very gradual progress, and it’s still happening now, of letting go of the need to feel approved, to learn that perhaps it’s okay to stand out in a crowd, and if your boyfriend gets embarrassed he shouldn’t be your boyfriend.

My first tryst with the camera was for a reality TV show called Get Gorgeous on Channel V. We were competing for a chance to be India’s next top models. It made a couple of careers for sure but when I look back I smile as I remember I had no idea what I was doing there. I think they just liked the fact that I was tall! I couldn’t make my hips shrink, I wasn’t lissom but quite awkward, and I was a natural-born leader even then protecting all the girls who didn’t want to walk the ramp on TV, at 22, in bikinis.

Today, anchoring from home, I’m finding a beautiful sense of freedom in naturally drying my hair, actually going on national TV like that and managing to look fine. I’m eating when I’m hungry and going for gentle walks, even eating cake! And I haven’t put on a bunch of kilos. I’m embracing a healthier lifestyle that makes me feel good and isn’t about living up to peer pressure. It would be refreshing if one of the lasting changes post COVID-19 would be to celebrate individual authenticity more than a ‘perfect’ body.

Women have so much to deal with already. Women have been conditioned to strive to be beautiful, not too much either - just the right amount in order to attract the right man and find their keys to the world. But it’s about being recognised for so much more... our strength, our compassion, our ability to be so many different things to different people. And do all this despite hormones. Would it really be such a bad world if we could walk around without our arms waxed if we just didn’t feel like it? 

Aabha Bakaya
Founder – Ladies Who Lead