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11 Non-Conforming, Un-Photoshopped Women Embrace Their Beauty In This Cosmo India Photo Shoot

"I’ve really made my peace with the way I look — the same scars I doused with make-up are now things I show off proudly."

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Abhina Aher, transgender activist.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“Trans women in this country have been subject to all kinds of harassment, treated like objects and thrown away. When you have that struggle inherently ingrained in you, beauty takes on a whole new power dynamic. Looking beautiful physically always picks me up."

Reeyaa Nair, model

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“My parents raised me to battle the traditional archetypes of beauty (you know, that dark-skinned women aren’t beautiful, and all that). Every fairness cream ad is a testament to this awful mindset. I think my colour isn’t a hindrance, and it gives me pleasure to stand up for women of colour all around the world.”

Dessidre Fleming, writer.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

"I love how I look when I smile, how one-of-a-kind it is — I’ve always loved how I look, and I accentuate as many of my features every single day as I possibly can. It’s very easy to get down about the way you look, but as long as you develop a wall, you’re golden.”

Ardahun Pinky Passah, entrepreneur.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“I’ve always been the most jealous of people who don’t give a sh*t. I was a kid covered in issues — too skinny, too short, brows too thick, forehead too big. The most upsetting? The gap in my teeth! I chose to fix it at age 28. It taught me that you’re never too old to look the way you want!”

Tania Fadte, stylist and designer.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

"As a teenager, I was so flustered by my birthmark. People would shoot strange glances at it, and ask if I had ‘dirt stuck between my legs’. I spent a lot of my adolescence trying to camouflage it. It wasn’t glamorous or arresting, but it was ‘me’ regardless.”

Nishat Fatima, photographer.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“People always notice my hair first and I don’t deny I’ve tried to make it look its best. My nose is something people bring up too, because I’ve met so many people fixated on noses. I don’t like to think about the way I look — I always think of it with the same detachment as I think of the way other people look."

Priyanka Bose, film actress.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“As a child, I was a big girl — incredibly boyish. In my head, I’m still that big girl — I dress for it. All my life, I’ve just wanted to be fit, and to be noticed for my inner wildness. If you’re not confident, act like it.”

Justine Rae Mellocastro, celebrity hairstylist.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

"I feel like I’ve really made my peace with the way I look — the same scars I doused with make-up are now things I show off proudly — I feel like they add character. Also, looking good is so in your power. Hate your hair? Cut it! Not happy with your body? Style it well! If you don’t think you were born beautiful, become it!”

Teesta Dalvi, model.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

“I’ve always hated my left profile. I went through a pre-pubescent phase of rabbit teeth and frizzy AF hair. I think feeling beautiful came with realising that my teeth and hair set me apart. I don’t think ‘generic’ is ever really ‘beautiful’.”

Kayaan Contractor, blogger.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

"I’ve never tried to hide anything about my body, or my face, and that sense of total comfort about who I am has bred the confidence I have today. In my opinion, it’s a perfect, calibrated equipoise between self-confidence and humility that makes someone beautiful.”

Sobhita Dhulipala, actress.

Ashish Shah / Via Cosmopolitan India

"I grew up with a truly miserable sense of self-esteem. Indians have an undeniable fairness fetish. The body image ‘ideal’ we hold as the gold standard doesn’t help either. I think the idea of beauty is something we can teach. If we create an environment where confidence reigns supreme, we won’t ever to have to seek validation ever again."

"The thought behind this particular story is to embrace beauty in a truly pure form, as a contrast to a world rife with retouching, correction and Photoshop," Samar Rajput, stylist at Cosmopolitan India told BuzzFeed.

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