Published: 07th March 2020
Everyday Sheroes: This 28-year-old makeup artist from Kolkata dreams to open her own parlour someday
In our run-up to International Women's Day 2020, we have curated this series of stories of women who aren't extraordinary — but our world may just stop going around smoothly if they call it a day
Married at 17 to a 32-year-old man, a victim of domestic abuse, this woman did not bow down to societal pressures. She rose from the ashes like a phoenix instead. Born and brought up in a staunch Muslim family, Sekh Ria started living her life when she chose to become a make-up artist and beautician after getting a divorce from her first husband after six years of marriage. Ria was married off right after she completed her Class XI. Even if she had the interest to study further, she wasn't given the chance. "Education for girls was not necessary at that point in a Muslim household. We were married off early. But I always wanted to enter this profession, which was considered derogatory in our community," explains Ria, adding, "Among the members of our community, girls are not seen in a good light if we get into this field - many of my family members tried to stop me but I was keen on learning. I even sold some of my jewellery to do that."
Ria had been inspired by her aunt's daughter, who used to work in a parlour. "I saw her and thought to myself that I want to do this, and I was not qualified enough to pursue anything else. Thus began my journey as a make-up artist," says the 28-year-old, who can expertly style your hair, do your make-up and drape your saree for you in just an hour. She's no less than a magician, we say! Before this line of work, Ria aspired to join the Indian Air Force someday but that dream was quashed when she was married at such an early age. "My father suffered a stroke when my marriage problems were going on. Then, this job became my livelihood and the only means to help with my father's treatment, so it means everything to me. I wanted to study, I still want to. I have even thought of pursuing some course through distance education but I can't afford it now," she says.
People appreciate what I do, they say that we beauticians make them beautiful, hide their flaws and that's what feels like an achievement
Sekh Ria, Beautician and makeup artist
Ria remarried in November 2017 and her husband has been her pillar of support throughout. She recalls her earlier days when she worked in parlours for the bare minimum of `1500 because her family had no other means of income. Then, her husband got her into a make-up course to improve her skills. But Ria adds that she has mostly learnt her skills from YouTube tutorials. Her dream is to open her own parlour one day. "I have the space but no money to renovate it or buy the equipment yet. There's no one to help me apart from my husband but I don't want to burden him with everything. I wish to save up and do something by next year," she explains. For the hundreds of other girls like her who are less-fortunate and can't afford high-end training at renowned salons, Ria conducts make-up classes for those who want to learn and earn a livelihood.
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