Beyond what you see" - Mariya Francis

Hi, I am Mariya Francis, a 25 year old model, designer and an art enthusiast. I'm currently

pursuing my master's from a university in the UK. I'm here to tell you a story on how I got to be a model from a woman who had grown out from a middle-class family and with the continental Indian societal thoughts around it.

Being a woman who has darker skin, I was always questioned and made fun of it. It's nothing

new as one is still made fun of their skin tone and physical features in this society. I was laid back, I was never supported for things and that let my family down in front of the society. The question that always stood in front of me was " What would people say?"


I come down from the south of India where women are treated in a more sophisticated manner.

I always had to follow the so-called societal norm of not traveling around, not stepping out of the house after 6 , a girl should do this and should not do that. I wasn't allowed to be a model. I always had people telling me how bad the industry is. How it could affect me and how it would drift me away from becoming a girl that the society wanted. But one fine day I knew I had to break such a norm.



I am always confident in my own skin tone. when I started modelling through college I

understood that what people saw as flaws were my plus points. I stopped caring and went

forward with my passion and ambitions. I participated in a beauty pageant in 2017, Manorama Miss Millennial 2017. I never thought of winning but I had to show the world how your flaws can be your biggest success in life. There were several participants who were talented, beautiful in their own way and experienced. Being intimidated at first I thought being optimistic and grateful for such an opportunity should be my first priority. I enjoyed my day while giving my best shot. The final day on stage when I was in the last round having reached the top 5 was the only thing that went through my mind. I was grateful that I could bring a change for women who felt less confident and looked down on herself just cause her skin tone was dark. Surprisingly I won the pageant, I won the crown , I stood in front of a huge crowd and I knew at that moment, this was a new beginning , this was a new phase where I could inspire women and be a person who others looked up to

Few days later I had my shoot with South India’s reputed Vanitha Magazine and for several other brands. Where the topic was who cares about colors. Many people on my social media platform whom I don't even know reached out to me saying what they went through. Being thin, being fat, having scars on your body , or being black doesn't stop you. Your skin tone is your jewel. Be proud of yourself for who you are rather than listening to the judgements and comments we get on it. That's what I wanted to tell the world. Be yourself, your flaws are your strengths. To the future generation and the women out there don't stop here, keep looking up , chase your dreams , let nothing stop you from being the best version of yourself.


Love, Team She