Meet the beautiful and inspiring woman, Ms. Priya Bhargava, who was diagnosed with Lupus and Transverse Myelitis at the age of 19 due to which she became 70% disabled. But her strong determination and willpower helped her break all the barriers to achieve greater heights. Ms. Priya Bhargava became Miss Wheelchair India in 2015. She was always drawn towards beauty pageants like Miss India and Miss World but being a shy and introverted person, she never thought to become one. Modeling happened to her unplanned.
Priya has always been a very creative person who loves to explore things and opportunities. She grew up in a very homely childhood. She has always been an extremely shy and introverted person but an ambitious one as well. Her family has always been supportive of her decisions whether it was related to studies, modeling, or something else until it is life-threatening. Her parents (Mr. S.C Bharagava and Mrs. Gayatri Bhargava) are her biggest source of inspiration. They have taught her whatever she is right now. She has learned from their life stories.
Expressing her pageant journey, Priya said that, first she filed her nomination out of frustration as she was bored of studying. By that time she had finished the master’s in Computer Applications by topping in her regional center.
I wanted something new to explore. So, I decided to send my pictures, videos, and bio-data for entry into Miss Wheelchair India. I was interviewed by the Founder of Miss Wheelchair India and was asked to send glamorous pictures for the Miss Popularity round. It was a big turn-off to me as I had been a shy person all my life. At one point I had decided to take my name back from the contest but before I could do that I was already amongst the top 7 finalists. I made my mind to complete it. Then I worked on all the necessary skills including my weight. And finally, On 5th Dec 2015, I won that contest in Bangalore.
Being a counseling psychologist at @talktoangel online portal and who herself has been through depression, relates to Mental health a lot. According to her, mental health occurs when you start thinking rationally and when you start seeing things from both perspectives, objectively as well as subjectively. We are the outcomes of our biases toward ourselves and others. Being happy always is near to impossible and it is not the parameter to define our mental health. Mental fitness includes feeding our minds with the right information and the right knowledge. There is no scope for negativity if we feed our minds with the right things.
Sharing her views on whether mental health is getting the required amount of importance in India or not she said,
At present, people are getting more aware of mental health. I do counsel a lot many people from different age groups. Still, a lot of improvement is necessary. People hide away telling that they have an appointment with a counselor or a psychiatrist but they do not hide away from telling that they have an appointment with a Dentist or a Physician. Until this won’t normalize, we can’t say that people are rational about this aspect of life. Many physical ailments exist because of mental health problems. So when you are mentally fit, you automatically get physically fit directly or indirectly.
Priya is a practicing Counselling Psychologist. Besides that, she is a Motivational Speaker, Educator, Fine Artist, Actor, Model, YouTuber, and Author( Freelancing). All these are her sources of income besides being her passion. She completely enjoys her work and gets peace out of it. She received the ‘Excellence Award’ by International Human Rights Organisation in
association with United Nations and International Bar Association.
She has modeled for Quint, Miss Wheelchair World, and Open Magazine. Priya has not only exhibited and successfully sold her art and crafts but also worked for a dress designer whose work was exhibited in Delhi and Dubai. She is a co-author in the book “Holding My Tears”. She has her YouTube Channel named “LifeSkillsByMissIndiaPriyaBhargava” for educating “life skills” to the people. Priya is also a petitioner to make “Cinemas Wheelchair Accessible” and “My Yellow Vehicle” for school students’ safety.
My work is my hobby. Besides that, I always believe in serving our society in any way we could. I am a social activist where I work for women empowerment, accessibility for specially-abled people, I am a member of WICCI-NMHC (National Mental Health Council). So mental health has always been on my agenda, I am also working for enriching people with information about Lupus by doing webinars with experts. I have a WhatsApp group where we are now a family of more than 100 Lupus warriors.
For Priya, her biggest accomplishment is Miss India Wheelchair winning. She has also represented India in the Miss Wheelchair World contest in 2017, becoming the 1st Indian woman to do so. She was also the First specially-abled model from India who was published as a cover girl on the Literary Magazine of ‘Tales & Tellers’. Her life story is on a Moral Science Book ‘Gems for Life’ in schools and colleges of India. She believes, being born as a human and finishing it being a human is the greatest achievement of all.
She has faced a lot of criticism throughout her journey. But Priya believes that people can criticize you at any point in time but it is your call whether you wish to take it positively or negatively. She has learned to handle criticism. She is more into working on herself to become a better version of herself. Not because people criticize, but because she wants to do it for her happiness and self-satisfaction.
My biggest strength is my parents, who have been there with me in my thicks and thins. I never forget to take their opinion while I make a decision. They are my motivators. They show me the other side of the coin. And that really helps. My weakness includes me being workaholic and very sensitive. I feel these are also my assets, I just need to be a bit conscious about my health both physical and mental.
In conformity with Priya, discrimination is everywhere. She has faced discrimination and she fights back in whatever way is possible or she simply just boycotts them. Some people are scared of her due to this. Standing for truth and fighting for it, needs a lot of guts and sometimes you are left alone all because of this. But this cannot break her determination to stand against something which is wrong.
Sometimes it gets disappointing for her with today’s societal norms but she always tries to make people aware of things. She feels that as we make the society, so we need to maintain a balance between law and order. If something is lacking in our society then it is our sole responsibility that we change it. People with disabilities are still not accepted or have basic rights. The young generation should act and change this perception of society.
Talking about facing rejection in her life, Priya mentioned,
I have faced very less rejections at the workplace as I am very hard working and sincere and I am not bragging. Those who know me personally are aware of it. But yes, In relationships, I have got rejections several times. Maybe because people think I am weak who would agree on everything they say or want. When they find me, someone who has her own say, it hurts their ego. No matter what, I will stand for myself, always.
Everyone has a unique mindset but something which Priya would like to change is how people perceive disability. She has noticed one common thing among people that is when they see any specially-abled person, their attitude is more of pity or sympathy. Whenever people come to interact with Priya thinking that she is some kind of sufferer, she opens up and tells them about all her achievements. That acts as a mirror to them and an indirect question, ’What are you up to?’
Her favorite quote is ‘This too shall pass’ as she has faced a very difficult time in the past due to her health issues. She was in the hospital for 4.5 months continuously, underwent several surgeries, blood, plasma, platelet transfusions. Two times doctors were also not sure of her life. She used to always think about when would she be fine as she aspires to do several things. That time, this thought has always relieved her from all the pains and keeps her grounded in most of her happiest times.
In the end, modeling has thrown a great impact on Priya’s life. It made her stronger and better.
Modeling has made me realize that I have this persona too. I can still look beautiful after having this life-threatening disease, after having big skin grafts, after having scars over most parts of my body, after losing bundles of hair. Still, I can be a model who inspires others. It has helped me to strengthen my belief in myself which I once had lost. Not because of me, but I was made to believe by the people around me that I am good for nothing. But now I am stronger than ever.