Miss Diva Universe 2022 Divita Rai: Taking second chances, battling PCOS and breaking beauty stereotypes
When she was all of three years old, Divita Rai’s mother and grandma made her dress as ‘Little Miss India 2001’. She flaunted a DIY crown made of gold-coloured paper and a sash. Cut to 2022, the dream she harboured all through her growing up years, finally came true when the 24-year-old was crowned the Miss Diva Universe 2022 at a glitzy ceremony. An architect by profession, Divita Rai believes in building the course of her life strength by strength and dream by dream.
In this Health Shots interview, the Mangalore-born girl who is now Mumbai-based, talks about returning to the Miss Diva Universe pageant to compete, what defines beauty, why pressure is important and navigating the health challenge of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Excerpts from an interview with Miss Diva Universe 2022 Divita Rai
1. How does it feel to win the crown?
Divita Rai: It is slowly sinking in. I feel extremely grateful because not a lot of girls get a chance to represent their country on a global stage. It’s such a surreal feeling to finally get crowned. It has been a childhood dream and I have been working towards it for quite some time.
2. What was the starting point of your desire to compete at a beauty pageant?
Divita Rai: I actually blame my nani and mom for instilling this dream in me. I was three years old, we had to go for a fancy dress competition and they made me Little Miss India 2001 with a DIY crown and a sash. That was the beginning of my dream, and as I grew up, I saw how beautifully women represented our country. It was quite the dream to live!
Watch Divita Rai’s crowning moment here!
3. The concept of beauty has undergone a huge change over the years.
Divita Rai: At the Miss Universe pageant, they are always pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. A lot of us have a perception that women should have long hair, they should have a certain type of look and body. But with each winner, I feel we are trying to dispel or break those stereotypes. I feel one should just have a good heart, good intentions and a goal-oriented mindset. If you can do that and have confidence in yourself, you can represent yourself and your country beautifully. And that is the conversation that we need to have more – that beauty is not just limited to a certain number of people. It’s what you feel from inside, what you say and and the impact it makes, that matters.
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4. You also competed at the Miss Diva 2021 competition, where Harnaaz Sandhu won the crown, and you got the second runner-up spot. What made you give a second shot this year?
Divita Rai: For me, it was simple. We have just one life and that makes our dreams are so precious. If we don’t give them our all, what is the meaning of life? This year was actually not my second try. I have been trying for quite a few years. It’s just that last year I became second runner-up.
I feel that despite the rejections and disappointments, I still continued to pursue my dream. I woke up with the same inclination every day, wanting to improve myself and give my dream another shot because I don’t want to live with regrets. Later on in life, I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I could have…I should have…or this was the the right time but I didn’t try’. I feel everybody deserves a second chance, and that’s the reason I tried again.
5. How do you deal with the pressure of competition?
Divita Rai: I believe pressure is good because that means there are expectations from people. It makes me very excited to see how I will thrive under pressure, because it helps you grow as a person. That, I feel, is the real and true purpose of life – how much you can grow, how much you can give and how much value you can create in your life.
For me, it has been very important to look at my situation and circumstances from that point of view. It gives me relief to think that I don’t have to do everything perfect or great. I just have to do my best in that moment. If I look at life from one moment to the next and try to do my best today and right now, it slowly builds up to a great life!
6. Despite your dream to be a beauty pageant winner, you studied architecture. Was it for a Plan B in life?
Divita Rai: Since childhood, my parents have emphasized on education. My father grew up in tough circumstances, but because of education, he was able to pull himself out of poverty and give us the exposure and the ability to dream big. He always says, ‘Your only limitation is the size of your dream and the scope of your imagination’. So, I truly believe that education is important to give you confidence and to acquire life skills, and not just from an academic standpoint.
Education is my advocacy too. I want girls, especially, to be educated because it can give them the confidence to take their life and destiny in their own hands, on their own terms.
7. As women, we face a lot of bias and battles even in our daily lives. Is there any experience you would like to share?
Divita Rai: As young adults and teenagers, I think we all go through phases in our life where we try to come into our own. I am someone who suffers from PCOS, and it is something very common. One out of 5 women face the condition, and it has been definitely a challenge to navigate that. I have to exercise and have a healthy diet, to curb my PCOS from aggravating.
It’s a challenge for every woman – her body type is different and her needs are different at every phase of life, So, we’ve got to first respect ourselves and believe that it’s okay to go through these things.
8. Would you like to share a ‘health shot’ with us?
Divita Rai: Well, it may seem generic and cliched, but it’s important to enjoy your life. I know a lot of people say that, but how many people really try to be present in every moment and enjoy what is comes our way? Your mindset reflects in your body. It all starts from your mind. Just begin each morning with a healthy and positive mindset!