Nepal’s Anjali Lama becomes first transgender model to walk Lakme Fashion Week
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Nepal’s Anjali Lama becomes first transgender model to walk Lakme Fashion Week

Anjali Lama of Nepal, became the first transgender women to model at Lakme Fashion Week. Though this is a dream come true, Anjali’s journey from Nepal to Mumbai has been one of struggle, doubts and acceptance.

fashion and trends Updated: Feb 11, 2017 07:23 IST
New Delhi
Anjali Lama,Nepal’s transgender model Anjali Lama,Lakme Fashion Week
Nepal's first transgender model Anjali Lama walks the ramp during the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer Resort 2017 in Mumbai on Wednesday.(PTI)

It was her big moment. Anjali Lama sashayed down the catwalk in the swanky Mumbai auditorium. A fitted, cream dress highlighted her tall, slender frame. Her pulled-back hair showed off her high cheekbones.

Modelling at Lakme Fashion Week often seemed like a dream far beyond her reach, but Lama has become the first transgender woman to model at one of the top events on India’s fashion calendar and one sponsored by a top Indian cosmetics brand.

Growing up as the fifth son in a poor farming family in Nepal, Lama didn’t dream early in life to be a fashion model. First was the painful struggle to accept that he felt deeply female.

Transgender model Anjali Lama grew up as the fifth son in a poor farming family in rural Nepal. (AP)

“I knew even as a child that I didn’t like being a boy, wearing those clothes,” Lama said by phone as she juggled fittings and photoshoots in Mumbai.

The years in the village were hard. Other children in school made fun of the boy, then called Nabin Waiba, and he struggled with figuring out why he felt so uncomfortable.

“I began to feel really confused and depressed. I kept asking myself ‘I’m a boy, so why do I feel this way?’

“I tried to change but it was mental torture.”

Anjali was born Nabin Waiba. (AP)

Coming to Kathmandu as a teenager brought some anonymity but few answers.

“I would walk around the city and see the beautiful saris and dresses in shop and wish I could dress like that. I used to wish God had made me a girl,” she said.

A chance encounter with transgender women turned Lama’s life around by putting her in touch with the Blue Diamond Society, an advocacy group for Nepal’s LGBT community.

In 2005 she came out to her friends and family as transgender.

It was a chance encounter with a transgender group in Kathmandu that changed Anjali's life forever. (AP)

It was like a rebirth for me. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m not alone in this world. There are others like me,’ she said.

Five years later she got silicone breast implants. The dream of a career in fashion followed.

“People began to notice me and tell me how I had the figure and height to become a model. That felt very nice.”

A magazine wrote a cover story about transgender people in Nepal and put her on the cover.

Anjali Lama (centre) showcases a creation by designer Gen Next at Lakmé Fashion Week on February 1, 2017. (AFP)

She felt close to her dream but it continued to elude her. After years of struggling and getting only small gigs in her home country, Lama decided to try her luck in India’s massive fashion industry.

“I felt I had to at least try and take a chance.”

And that chance came in December when after two failed auditions she finally made the cut.

“I’m very, very excited. I’m trying to just enjoy this moment,” she said, giggling over the phone. “This is a dream come true.”

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First Published: Feb 03, 2017 12:40 IST