At first sight, all you notice is a slender, lithe frame with sharp cheekbones just like any other fashion model. A closer look however will tell you that Anjali Lama isn’t quite like her contemporaries prepping for the upcoming season of Lakme Fashion Week — she is a transgender model, the first one at that to take to the ramp at one of the country’s most established fashion weeks.
Born as Nabin Wabia in the farming village of Nuwakot about 75 km away from the Kathmandu, Anjali always knew she was a woman trapped in a man’s body. Selected from a pool of 112 models across the globe, she is now prepping up to give her best for her dream break. Speaking to us after a training session, the 32-year-old shares with us her struggles, experiences and how she is more than just her gender.
In Nepal the journey was very difficult. I tried to dress like a man, but people still used to pass comments like, “Why is he behaving like a girl?” Even as a child I knew that I was a woman trapped in a man’s body but there was nothing I could do about it. I only understood that my condition has a name when I moved to Kathmandu for higher studies. I joined the Blue Diamond community (Nepal’s leading sexual minority group) and underwent a surgery. When my family and friends came to know about it they broke all the ties with me. I was 19-years-old back then. There was so much sorrow but also a lot of joy because I’d finally found my identity.
In Kathmandu my friends were very encouraging and suggested that I try my luck with modelling. It was always a childhood passion and I decided to go ahead with it. I used to watch models on Fashion TV and always aspired to be like them. After initial rejections I did manage to get some assignments in Nepal. But the fashion industry there is very small and hence the work that I got to do there was minimal. I work at the community centre to supplement my income.
Her Big Break in India
This is not the first time that I have tried auditioning in India. I had auditioned for LFW earlier this year as well but wasn’t selected. This time I prepared myself better and gave my 100 per cent. Initially, I was very nervous seeing all those tall and beautiful models, but I knew that I had to make it this time and tried my best. The jury members weren’t aware that I’m a transgender — that was an achievement. The news of my selection reached my family, friends and our relationship now is finally improving. This is my dream break. I have always aspired to wear an outfit designed by Manish Malhotra and walk the ramp. I hope that dream comes true soon!
I did not get selected because I’m a transgender, I got selected because I’m capable enough. I’d encourage everyone to fight their fears and open up about their identity. If you keep thinking about the society, you will end up spoiling your own life. Once you come out in open, there will be struggles initially but at least you will have your identity to keep you company. I have struggled and saved every penny I earned in Nepal to make it here. This is going to be my first paycheck in India.