Beauty with a purpose


Malveen (centre) started The Bunga Project to help underprivileged children with educational needs. Photo: Malveen Kaur Gill

Beauty isn’t just skin deep – it has to have a purpose. This is what celebrity host Malveen Kaur Gill, who won the Miss Globe Malaysia 2021 and represented Malaysia at the international competition in Tirana, Albania earlier this year, believes.

“At the end of the day, it’s your personality, what you stand for, and what you can contribute to the society that matters the most,” she says.

The 28-year-old from Senai, Johor is passionate about doing what she can to help the less fortunate. Malveen reveals that she is greatly inspired by former model and Miss Universe Malaysia 2011 Deborah Priya Henry because “she has the heart of a giver”.

In Aug 2020, Malveen started The Bunga Project to help underprivileged children with educational needs.

Her first visit was to the Berkat Children’s Home in Johor where she had some fun, educational activities for the children where they could explore and learn more about the world around them.

“It’s more than just providing books, stationeries or other supplies, it’s also teaching them about the world around them, and how together, we can make it a better place. It’s about sharing wisdom and motivating them,” she says. “Not every child is the same but all of them need to see that they have a purpose in society.”

“Many children and youth today have the potential to speak up about issues that a lot of adults have failed to. It’s a ripple effect. When you touch one heart, you see them in turn touch the hearts of others, and it becomes the change the world needs today,” she adds.

She has visited rural areas of Sarawak to share with underprivileged children about the importance of education. In Johor, she has visited orphanages to interact with and carry out educational activities with them such as cupcake decorating, zumba dance, and crown making.

“Some of these children really have the passion to make a difference in the world. It’s my desire to help them find their direction as I believe all children have the potential to be future leaders,” she says.

During the floods in Malaysia, she has also helped raise funds for laptops for children whose families were affected.

Challenges of the trade

Malveen is passionate about raising awareness on cyberbullying and advocates kindness because 'you never know what a person is going through inside though they might look fine on the outside'. Photo: Malveen Kaur GillMalveen is passionate about raising awareness on cyberbullying and advocates kindness because 'you never know what a person is going through inside though they might look fine on the outside'. Photo: Malveen Kaur GillThere are many challenges being in the beauty industry, says Malveen.

“Firstly, finances – to maintain one’s physical beauty can be costly. It involves spending money on skincare, proper diet and exercise,” she says.

“Secondly, beauty standards – being a public figure, you’re always judged from head to toe and people think they own you and can say anything they want, disregarding how you feel. There’s also favouritism and discrimination because of the beauty standards planted in their head, such as the issue of height, weight, skin colour and age,” she adds.

As a beauty contestant, Malveen hasn’t faced any discrimination for being Asian or for her dark complexion, but reveals that she did get judged for her height.

“Even though 1.68m isn’t short by Malaysian standards, many consider anything below 1.7m short. But, internationally, shorter girls are already being recognised at pageants. Maria Thattil from Australia, who stands at 1.6cm, was the shortest contestant at the Miss Universe 2020 pageant, and she now advocates towards breaking conventional beauty stereotypes.

“At the end of the day, you’ve to realise beauty is more than all these physical attributes. It’s about being a spokesperson and creating a positive impact on the lives of the people around you,” she says, highlighting that it’s not always the most physically perfect girl who wins.

But she admits that she had self-esteem issues when she was a teenager.

'Beauty is more than physical attributes. It’s about being a spokesperson and creating a positive impact on the lives of the people around you,' says Malveen. Photo: Malveen Kaur Gill'Beauty is more than physical attributes. It’s about being a spokesperson and creating a positive impact on the lives of the people around you,' says Malveen. Photo: Malveen Kaur Gill“I was referred to as the girl who would never make it, and I wasn’t seen as beautiful or attractive because of my dark complexion, having a boyish attitude and being an introvert. It was only when I started studying fashion design that I changed,” says Malveen who has a degree in fashion design from Nottingham Trent University, England.

“I became more confident and my ability to communicate improved. These are two important qualities that a beauty queen must have. You need to be able to convince people with the power of your voice and your choice of words,” she says.

Malveen, who loves to drink coffee, dance and watch movies, ventured into the world of modelling and beauty pageants in 2019 when she took part in the Harry Internationals Miss HIT Johor Pageant.

She is also passionate about raising awareness on cyberbullying and advocates kindness ‘because "you never know what a person is going through inside though they might look fine on the outside".

“There are beauty queens who have taken their own lives because the pressures they’ve gone through have taken a toll on them mentally. We’ve to remember these girls are someone’s daughters, sisters and friends, and to be more kind and accepting,” she concludes.

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