The death of former Indian supermodel Viveka Babajee has put the country’s fashion industry under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. However, experts and the fashion industry believe the accusations against them are unfair and they should not be held accountable for the personal choices people make.
The 37-year-old reportedly committed suicide after a split with her boyfriend Gautam Vora last week.
The industry was shocked, as it was when former Miss India and MTV VJ Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in 2004 while model-turned-TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa committed suicide in 2006. According to psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh depression can hit anyone at any point in time, at any stage in life. “It perhaps is more noticeable amongst certain sections or groups due to one’s social status in society. It has nothing to do with a specific profession,” Chugh told IANS. “The high stress and demands of the profession can make one emotionally weak and fragile, ultimately forcing one to shut all the doors forever,” he added.
Choreographer Liza Varma, who is also a former Miss India finalist, said, “It will be very wrong to blame the fashion industry for such suicides. A lot depends on the character of a person - if he or she is strong enough to overcome emotional stress.”
“There are so many things happening around us. But just because a popular personality has committed suicide, the media frantically starts reporting about it. If you look around, there might be women committing suicide in Meerut or Kanpur, but no one is reporting that,” she pointed out.
Chugh disagrees with accusations that models turn to suicide as a form of escape, a stereotype that has been furthered by films such as Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion.
“Reports about models, actors, pop stars and other artists committing suicide are often heard and there is no indication of it being higher or only among females,” said Chugh. “Female fashion models continuously have to take care of their body and appearance as that is where their bread and butter come from. Glamour, glitz and the media often inadvertently put a lot of emphasis on the body image and that can put a lot of pressure on women,” he added.
Chugh felt loneliness is one of the factors that can push an individual to commit suicide. “In the process of climbing up the ladder to success, one may encounter bitter experiences and rude shocks that could result in relationships going sour. This could eventually make you feel lonely at the top too,” Chugh pointed out. He said, “The trick here is not to succumb to pressures but to move on.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2010.
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