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Spotlight > Nicole Faria
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Green & Gracious

There are a handful of jewels who believe in giving back to the society by way of their success – one such jewel being Miss Faria herself, perhaps it is destiny’s will that she had to be the first Indian woman to have won the international Miss Earth title. Vijetha Rangabashyam talks to Nicole about her modelling days, the Miss Earth experience, the glamour industry, conservation and more.

Emily Dickinson once said Beauty is not caused. It is. Makeup or makeovers might be an integral aspect of the fashion and beauty industry but by the same token, they are ephemeral. What sets a woman, any woman for that matter, apart from another is what lies within her –her thinking and belief system. Perhaps why the word ‘brain’ is cautiously associated with beauty often times. The debate on beauty is undecided and it still vehemently continues but to Nicole Faria, Miss Earth 2010, beauty transcends aesthetics for she believes that what matters ultimately is one’s purpose in life, the very core of one’s existence. It is not a wonder why she was aptly chosen as Miss Earth – beauty and brain aside, there is more meaning to the crown she owns and the title she bears. For Nicole, being eco conscious and sensitive to nature is not something that happened offhand. The proclivity to conserve and preserve is something intrinsic for her. Her penchant for fame and popularity has been sown from the age of fifteen, when she first tried her stint with modelling.

‘I was always an attention seeker. I love the limelight’
Having been born and brought up in Bangalore, Nicole was not one of those kids who loved attending school. Long story short – being studious wasn’t her thing. “I went to Sophia High School and switched to Bishop Cottons after the 8th grade. I was the naughty one who would fall off a flight of stairs on purpose to injure myself and go back home.” To Nicole, embracing fame and being popular stems from the fact that she loved attention. “I participated in school plays, musicals and I was a part of the choir group. I wanted to be noticed and I am not ashamed of the fact that I always liked limelight.” Modelling was a happenstance in Nicole’s life. Her first modelling experience was when she was 15, when she walked the ramp for an Indian clothing and jewellery brand. “I always wanted to be an actress and I knew modelling was a stepping stone. After my first ramp show, I got such an amazing response which motivated me to take it up seriously and that is when I decided to give Miss India a shot.”

‘My mother saw herself in me, while I was growing up’
Initially, Nicole’s desire to become a model was peppered with bouts of anxiety. “The lights and cameras were on me and what if I tripped and fell? What could give me the best feeling in the world could also potentially kill me inside.” But her parents were ever so encouraging and gave her the support she needed. In fact, it was they who got more excited about the Miss Earth pageant than Nicole herself. “I never wanted to participate in the pageant in the first place. I was a popular model by then and I did not want to contest in any competition that would question my ability.” But Nicole’s father pushed her to participate and gave her the boost she needed. “He said to me that I had nothing to lose even if I actually lost to someone, I still have the experience to bring back home.” Nicole saw her evening gown in tatters which left her utterly discouraged. “I could have been more stressed, you know. But my dad being a motivational speaker always had this attitude which he passed on to me – what has happened has happened and nothing can be done except for looking at the brighter side of a glitch.”

‘Human behaviour fascinates me. I love observing people’
Nicole pursued psychology in Christ College and to her the world revolves around psychology. “My dad was into counselling. He never believed in sticking to one career path and he explored different fields. And my interest in psychology stemmed from the fact that he was a counsellor.” She believes that a career in modelling or films for that matter is temporary and to that account, psychology is something she would pursue any given day. “I believe in a simple mantra; if you fear something, face that fear. It is after all a psychological concept.”

‘The industry is filled with fake people. Fortunately, I know how to differentiate them from the rest’
Nicole was the youngest to participate in the pageant. While plenty of them thought her age might work to her disadvantage, she certainly did not think so. It was a fabulous platform where she got great exposure and advice. “I was babied around but I took it in my stride. I grew up with girls who were my contenders and who better to get advice from than your own friends?” Nicole says that people universally think that it is not easy to make friends in the industry and she disagrees. “I think there are many nice people around in the industry that you can trust. Yes, there are a lot more whom you cannot but you have to be smart in making the right decision.” According to her, differentiating between genuine and superficial people is an acquired skill which comes to people over time and it is for this reason that she believes that she is blessed to have entered the industry at such a young age. “The minute you start focussing on what other people think of you, you start losing focus on yourself. I was not in the competition for that.” She truly believes in ‘live and let live’ policy and to her that is the only way one can exist in the industry. “If someone is being pretentious, it is probably because they are jealous of you. I would never let that get to me considering it could spoil the day ahead of me.”

‘The moment I landed in Vietnam, I knew I was going to win. I had this gut feeling’
Having won the Miss India Earth title, Nicole flew to Vietnam to bag the International title. “I will always remember Vietnam. It was so similar to India and I felt at home.” But she was not entirely happy about losing the Miss India title to someone else considering she wanted to qualify for the Miss World Pageant. “I remember crying the entire night. My parents consoled me and told me that everyone lives for a purpose and is born for a reason. The next day I looked at my loss in a different way. No Indian has ever won the Miss Earth title before and God has a plan for me. I left for Vietnam with the same attitude.” Apart from all the limelight and the publicity what mattered the most to Nicole was the fact that she was trained by the finest in the industry. “To be one among the cream of the industry and be guided by such talented personalities was something that kept me on my toes.”

‘Being a beauty queen is not easy. It is exhausting to look pretty 24/7’
While girls from other nations packed one or two suitcases, Nicole had packed nine. “It is almost a thing with India. If you are over packed, you are an Indian and that is how people identify you. It is embarrassing in a way but we were always sent with many options rather than lacking options.” From taking part in coastal cleaning activities to educating children about environmental hazards, Nicole’s days kept her completely busy. “I was well prepared and I had studied a lot on global environmental issues. If there is one thing I took back from the pageant, it is the fact that just because you are a beauty queen, there are no short cut methods to success. We still had our work cut out for us.” According to Nicole, being in the limelight is synonymous with being poised and perfect all the time and that can be very exhausting. “By the time the day ended, I would want to come back and sleep, so there was pretty much no time for me to even think of calling my parents.”

‘Till date winning Miss Earth is like a rehearsal to me’

Nicole had a short love affair with Vietnam. The people and their culture reminded her of India. “There is so much history in Vietnam and we stayed in a city called Nha Trang which was flanked by the mountains and the sea. Representing India for Miss Earth, I thought I would be given only vegetarian food. But I was allowed to explore different delicacies like frog legs, bat wings, snakes and so on.” There was no dearth of confidence when it came to the competition for Nicole since she had already won the talent round and the golf tournament, adding to it, her parents and her close relatives had flown in to Vietnam to watch her battle it out. “I could see my parents from the stage and the minute I saw them, I waved at them. My aunt and uncle had flown all the way from the US. It was an unbelievable experience. Ronan Keating was performing and all my thoughts were with my parents when I heard my name called out by the host.” Unlike other beauty pageants, Miss Earth is about beauty, brains and a huge responsibility for a good cause and Nicole was all for the cause. “Till date, the fact that I have won the Miss Earth title on the international front has not sunk in. I still don’t walk around like a beauty queen. I have no such airs about myself.”

‘Indian women are naturally voluptuous and I think that’s sexy’
Nicole is blessed with a great metabolism rate. She has never had to work for a leaner body considering she was always lean. “I never believed in dieting. Working out is something which gives me such a feel good factor. Unfortunately, I have not worked out much in these 2 years after the pageant. I have my time constraints since I travel a lot. I have now put on weight and I like myself like this.” During the pageant, Nicole walked in weighing 54 and she walked out as 45. ‘They put us on a detox diet which was devoid of carbs. We had to eat fruits, vegetables, soups and juices. I initially wanted to throw up but eventually I got used to it. It was good for us ultimately because it took the toxins out.” We have always heard about how the fashion industry breeds victims of anorexia and bulimia because of its fixation on being skinny but Nicole says it is all blown out of proportion. “I think to starve is an individual’s choice. The industry does not play hard on curvy people. They might ask them to drop a few kilos so that an outfit looks better on them. But no one propagates an unhealthy way of losing weight. Some people have genes that do not allow them to lose weight whatever they do and hence they opt for unhealthy practices.”

‘At a very subconscious level, I have always been sensitive to the environment.’
Nicole says conserving starts at home and even as a child she used to be eco conscious. “I used to break cigarettes, bring home puppies from the street and help my grandmother water her plants.” Before the international pageant, Nicole signed up with U-Solar, a company which dealt with manufacturing solar panels to generate electricity. From being a part of ‘Save the tiger’ and ‘Save the elephant’ campaigns to tree planting projects not just in India but around the world, Nicole’s contribution towards preserving the environment still continues. “Trying to reach out to the people through the media, whatever channel it may be, is important. I managed to visit schools worldwide and educate the kids on resorting to an eco friendly lifestyle.” Taking part in cyclothons, to promote cycles instead of using cars was another drive towards conserving energy that she was an active part of. “I never believed in using plastic, unless I ordered soda that came in plastic bottle. I believe in reduce, reuse and recycle. I try to keep my showers short or turn off the tap when I don’t need the water. I love designers who use eco friendly fabrics. I think that is where real creativity lies; transforming trash to treasure.”

‘I am a travel baby. I practically live out of a suitcase’

Number one on Nicole’s destination list is Fiji. “From the colours, to the people and the food, the island is so beautiful.” South Africa brings back such fond memories for Nicole as she claims that the country has been really good to her. “I unfortunately had the chance to visit just Johannesburg. I will definitely go back to explore more.” Another country that made a huge impact on her was Australia. “It is another beautiful country. It is a blend of cultures to every extent and it is one huge land of diverse practices, cuisines and what not!” But when it comes to food and shopping, Nicole says that there is no better place than Dubai. She also swears by Siamese cuisine. “I love Thai food and I think I have been to Bangkok ten times in the last one year.” For a globetrotter like Nicole, the journey is never complete without getting a glimpse of the Big Apple. “I had to go to New York for a month on work. But within a week I flew back and surprised my mother since it was her birthday and I flew back to New York with her.” Having gone on many shopping escapades to NYC along with her mother, Nicole recollects the city as being full of life. “The city literally never sleeps. Even at 4 in the morning, you look outside the window, you find the city to be well lit and people walking around.”

‘Fashion to me is being comfortable’
Nicole believes that any look can be pulled off so long as one is comfortable in it. “It does not matter if you have draped a bed sheet around you. So long as you feel comfortable, you will automatically look good.” According to her, feeling good is directly connected to looking good and vice versa. “Being comfortable to me is sexy. Just being in jeans and a tank top is comfort to me. I love dresses and one of my prized possessions is a dress by Roberto Cavalli.” Nicole does not believe in following trends. “I think everyone should have their individual taste and create their own fashion. Also, it is better to stick to colours that complement one’s skin tone.” For Nicole, her clothes and accessories have to be one of a kind and not something everybody else is wearing. “I love to shop in small boutiques rather than big brands because I don’t want to be wearing what someone else might wear.” Nicole does occasionally like to splurge on brands but she is definitely not brand conscious. ‘In bags, I love Louis Vuitton. When I go shoe shopping, the first brand that comes to my mind is Aldo. I always go to H&M, Bebe and Forever 21 outlets for clothes and the designers I love are Rocky S, Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani.”

Summer with Nicole

- Sunny Getaway – Fiji

- Cold quencher – Lemonade

- Colour of Summer – White

- Beauty regime – Drink lots of water, cleanse, tone and moisturize. Remove makeup before sleep, eat right and practise yoga.

- On a sunny day – Call a few friends and go have a fantastic brunch.

- The sunny look – Peachy tones on lips and cheeks. No foundation, it is summer, thank you very much! Own a good sun block and tie your hair in a high ponytail.
Green Tips from Nicole

- Reduce, reuse and recycle

- Don’t use plastic; if you do, reuse and recycle

- Don’t waste water. Less than one percent of drinkable water is available on the planet. I think the next World War would be fought over water at this rate.

- Respect the environment and don’t litter.

- Plant a tree for a greener tomorrow.
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