The Union Public Service Examination (UPSC) results were declared this week, and one of the breakout stories to emerge from this batch was that of 23-year-old Aishwarya Sheoran. Sheoran secured the 93rd rank in the examination, out of 829 candidates who passed, but the reason for the wave of attention she received was her former profession as a beauty queen and model. A former Miss India finalist, Sheoran was praised for challenging stereotypes about the intellect of women in the fashion industry and hailed as an example of how looks should not lead to assumptions based on appearance.
The daughter of an army officer, Sheoran entered the world of modeling when she won the Delhi Times Fresh Face competition in 2014. From there, her path led her to be selected as one of the 21 finalists for the Miss India pageant, and a successful modeling career where she walked the ramp at several fashion weeks for famous designers like Manish Malhotra. After a few years in the fashion industry, she chose to pursue civil services and serve the nation like her army officer father, only in a different capacity.
“I thought I should try for civil services for diversity in the family and the ultimate idea is to serve the nation. In the army, there are opportunities for women to grow, but it is still very limited. In civil services, there is no limit to what a woman can achieve,” Sheoran told reporters after the results were declared. She has also stated that she is hoping to work toward women’s safety and education in her capacity as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
This is truly commendable. After the news went viral, many netizens including civil service officers also took to the micro-blogging website to congratulate Aishwarya on her achievement. While the “beauty with brains” tag is in itself reductive, Sheoran’s new-found viral fame proves that society is still surprised when a good-looking woman displays knowledge and capability. However, it will be due to the achievements of women like Sheoran that those preconceived notions will be eventually defeated.
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