When Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai won international beauty pageants in 1994, the duo became national icons as their triumph received an unprecedented coverage throughout the country. Back in 1966 when Reita Faria won the Miss World title, the enthusiasm was perhaps limited to an elite circle. For Aishwarya, the Miss World crown was just another feather in the cap as she had been an established model prior to her pageant entry.
Back in 1966 when Reita Faria won the Miss World title, the enthusiasm was perhaps limited to an elite circle. But Sushmita and Aishwarya had a larger audience, especially the former; her narrative struck a chord with many young girls, because her underdog backstory had elements that an average middle class person could relate to—a typical teenager who had to deal with many insecurities and challenges in life, but battled them with grit and self-belief .