By, Saba Tabassum
Beauty cannot be analyzed with ease. Balancing beauty; externally and internally, is in fact quite rare.
In 1976, Philosopher Edmond Burke wrote “We must conclude that beauty is, for the greater part, some quality in bodies, acting mechanically upon the human mind by the intervention of senses.”
And when it comes down to assessing beauty, many people are their own worst critics. Dating back in time, ‘beauty with brains’ have ruled the world and still continue to amaze us with their incredible breath-taking personalities. What more than wit and charm in strong women could be more attractive. Women who haven’t shrunken to the comfort of others and constantly maintaining their mental muscles are happy in their own skin.
“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” – Edmond Burke.
Going back in history, around 69 BC, Cleopatra VII, is still continuing to charm us with her extraordinary beauty. She has achieved and maintained The Great Empire of Egypt for over 20 years, with almost 16 of these years as its sole ruler.
No contemporary information exists for cleopatra’s life, it is difficult to piece together her biography with much certainty.
Much of the known facts comes from Greco-Roman scholars, particularly Plutarch.
Born in 69 BC (some sources mention 70 BC) in Alexandria, Egypt, she traced her family origins to Macedonian Greece. Despite not being ethnically Egyptian, Cleopatra embraced many of her country’s customs and was the first member of the Ptolemaic line to learn the Egyptian language.
QUEEN OF EGYPT:
In 51 B.C., Ptolemy XII died, leaving the throne to 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII. It is believed that she was the most beautiful Queen of her time and moreover, her wit, charm and intelligence made her more attractive. She acquired throne at the age of 18 and remained a ruler until her death at the age of 39. She was undoubtedly the most powerful ruler of her time.
SHE MASTERED SEVERAL LANGUAGES AND WAS EDUCATED IN MATHEMATICS, PHILOSOPHY, ORATORY AND ASTRONOMY.
She has been more renowned for her intellect than her appearance. Egyptian sources later described her as a “ruler, who elevated the ranks of scholars and enjoyed their company.” Ancient writer Plutarch claimed that Cleopatra’s beauty was “not altogether incomparable, and that it was instead her mellifluous speaking voice and irresistible charm that made her more desirable.”
She managed to get the alliance of two powerful Roman men-Military leader Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, until her death in 30 B.C. One of antiquity’s most famous rulers, Cleopatra’s life inspired William Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra and numerous film dramatizations, most famously a 1963 feature starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Dr REITA FARIA POWELL
Before “beauty with a purpose” became the motto of the Miss World contest, a 23-year-old medical student from Bombay became the first Asian to win the pageant. Fifty years after her win, Reita Faria looks back at the night that changed her life, and the love it brought her way.
An Indian Physician, former model and beauty pageant title holder who won the Miss World title in 1966, making her the first Asian woman to win the event. She is also the first Miss World winner who became a physician. She went on to become the first Miss World winner to qualify as a Doctor.
Dr Faria was born on August 23, 1943 to Goan parents in British Bombay (now Mumbai). After winning the Miss Mumbai Crown, she won the Eve’s Weekly Miss India contest.
At 5’8”, Faria was statuesque by Indian standards, and her height often attracted offers from modelling and casting agents. Cecilia Menezes, 74, one of Faria’s childhood friends, remembers her as one with poise. “Reita always carried herself beautifully. We would forever be late when we were going out because she took the longest to get ready. But she was always sure that she wanted to be a doctor,” she says.
Miss world 1966
During the initial elimination rounds, the focus of the pageant had broadened to include the women’s personalities and accomplishments. “I guess that’s when I started to move ahead into the top 25. My height and the heels made me stand out,” says Faria, with a laugh. It was also her background as a medical student that set her apart. “The question put to me in the personality round was why I wanted to be a doctor. When I replied that India needed more obstetricians and gynecologists, they said India has lots of babies. I said that that was something we needed to discourage, which got a lot of applause,” says Faria, who then found herself in the final three, along with Miss Greece and Miss Yugoslavia, who was her favorite for the title. “But when she was called up as second runner-up, I looked at Miss Greece thinking, ‘Oh it’s her then’,” she says. Seven out of the nine judges, which included Hollywood actor Ty Hardin, picked Faria to be crowned Miss World 1966, a remarkable achievement for the only non-white contestant to advance after the top 15 was announced.
After her one-year tenure as Miss World, she refused modeling and films and instead concentrated on medical studies.
Reita Faria was a student at the Grant Medical College & Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals where she completed her M.B.B.S. degree. Thereafter she went on to study at King’s College Hospital, London. Dr Reita was also a judge at Femina Miss India in 1998, and has come back to judge the Miss World competition on a few occasions. For instance, she was a judge along with Demis Roussos at the Miss World final of 1976 held in London where Cindy Breakspear was crowned Miss World.
Dr Faria and Dr David Powell got married in 1971 and later, in 1973 the couple moved to Dublin after their two daughters, Deirdre and Ann Marie, were born. She started her medical practice there. When the girls were four and five years of age, Faria decided to give up her practice. “Since the girls were just a year apart, those were mad days. David’s work was all too consuming for him, so I thought I would be home till the children needed me — and that’s still going on,” she says. Powell continues to practice as an endocrinologist and Faria has her hands full with her five grandchildren, golf, occasional skiing and cooking. “The glamour world could have never given me this grounded security. I wish the girls today would realize the fleeting nature of fame and looks. Running after these flashes of publicity, trying to hold onto what changes so rapidly and always looking out for variety, be it in ambitions or relations, is bound to cause distress. It’s unusual for a celebrity to make for a happy family these days, but this is where real happiness lies — in secure relationships,” she says. Which is what brings her back to India every few years: to meet family and friends in Mumbai.
Recently she attended the 50th anniversary meet of her batch at Grant Medical College. In 2016, to commemorate the 50th year of her title, her daughters, both doctors, put together a small celebration with the family in Dublin. “When David and I look back at our life — 49 years together, including four before marriage — we realize we have each other, good health, children and grandchildren, and still so many shared interests from golf to skiing. What more does one want? I have my whole world,” says Faria.
Dr faria continues to inspire young women till date. Now, at the age of 76, a grandmother of five, Reita Powell rues the lack of “niceties of life”, which she claims plagues the world of glamour. Regardless, she truly is the ‘beauty with purpose’!
Dr Aditi Govitrikar
Govitrikar, born in Panvel, Maharashtra on 21 May 1976, is an Indian model, actress and a doctor. She is the only Indian to have won the Mrs. World title. From 1997 until 2004, Govitrikar remains the only Indian supermodel with the both medical doctor and psychologist qualification. She has been touted by Hindustan Times as “Beauty with Brains”. As she says “I started out as a doctor, became an accidental model and an actor, and today, I am a qualified Counceller and a psychologist.”
She did her schooling in Barns High School in Panvel. Her journey as a little girl from a small town to a medical college has been extremely hard. Govitrikar travelled almost 6 hours everyday in public buses to her coaching center. She spent hours studying while travelling in the crowded buses. Facing numerous hardship, govitrikar didn’t lose hope and got selected at Grant Medical College in Mumbai and graduated in 1997.
Her life had different plans after She won the Gladrags Megamodel Contest in 1996 and the Gladrags Mrs. India in 2000, subsequently winning Mrs. World contest in 2001. Govitrikar remains the first and the only Indian woman to have won the Mrs. World title. She started doing her MS in Gynecology and Obstetrics after finishing her MBBS, but could not finish it as she got into the field of modelling. Later, Govitrikar ventured into acting when she played a prominent role in Thammudu (1999), a movie that was a runaway hit. She went on to act in many movies including Paheli (2005) India’s official entry to the 79th Academy Awards and De Dana Dan (2009), that won an award at the International Indian Film Academy Award. She also played a leading role in several super hit music videos such as Kabhi to Nazar Milao by Adnan Sami and Asha Bhosle (1997) and Aaeena by Jagjit Singh (2000). Govitrikar launched PETA in India and has also endorsed top tier international brands such as Coca-Cola, Chopard, Fendi and Harry Winston.
In an independently organized ted talks, Dr aditi speaks on career change. She says “when we make the career choice at twenty, we make it based on prestige, rather than fulfilment.” She didn’t feel ‘fulfilled’. Sitting in the green room, young aditi realizes this is not what she wants to do. “after a successful run of over 10 years, I started to feel unfulfilled academically, because my field as an actor and model left me craving for intellectual stimulation.”
Currently, at the age of 44 years, Dr aditi Govitrikar continues to inspire us greatly with her determination. Gone through various transitions, she has managed to achieve her goals. She has completed a post graduate course in counselling from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and obtained a master’s degree in Psychology from IGNOU. In 2019, she completed her second masters degree in Psychology from Harvard University.
Aditi is an accomplished personality with over 20 years of combined experience as a successful model, actor and a Doctor. Using her expertise and knowledge as a Doctor she has now ventured into counseling and coaching. Having strong interpersonal and human relation skills, Aditi is able to; in an astute manner recognize the specific needs of the client. Her coaching technique helps people through the method of self-discovery and empowers them to reach their highest potential.
She has successfully conducted over 30 workshops for Mumbai Police on stress management, which has helped them significantly. She also conducts various workshops on personality development, image consulting and grooming. This could be for a team or even at an individual level. She has been instrumental in training all the participants who take part in the Miss India contest.
Her constant endeavor is to cause transformation in people’s lives to enable to live the life they want, be alive and be liberated.
Last but not the least, ‘beauty with a purpose’ is entitled to millions of women around us. The list is a line toward infinity.