'Enabled with ideas': Jaipur's fashion show redefines beauty, empowering the differently-abled

Fondly known as “Ritu,” she is not merely a business entrepreneur but also a compassionate soul deeply committed to her social responsibilities.
'Enabled with ideas': Jaipur's fashion show redefines beauty, empowering the differently-abled

RAJASTHAN : Fashion, for long, has been synonymous with glamour, style, and sophistication. When one envisions a “fashion show,” images of impeccably dressed models strutting down the runway amidst flashing lights and thunderous applause often come to mind. It’s a spectacle that captivates audiences worldwide, celebrating beauty, creativity, and sartorial innovation.

However, amid the glitz and glamour, there exists a quieter yet profoundly impactful movement — a movement that challenges conventional notions of beauty and inclusivity. This movement finds its home in the heart of Jaipur, where a unique fashion extravaganza unfolds, showcasing the talents of individuals often sidelined by society — the differently-abled.

For the three years, Jaipur has set the stage for a fashion revolution, spearheaded by the indefatigable Ritu Umesh Aggarwal. Fondly known as “Ritu,” she is not merely a business entrepreneur but also a compassionate soul deeply committed to her social responsibilities. As the CSR Director of CREDAI Rajasthan, Ritu has dedicated herself to empowering the marginalized, particularly those with disabilities.

Ritu provided a platform for disabled individuals to shine in the world of fashion.

Ritu shares her motivation behind this endeavour, “It was started three years ago to instil confidence in disabled individuals and integrate them into mainstream society. It has evolved into a significant social initiative, fuelling my passion for social service. Working towards uplifting those often marginalized by society brings me immense joy and satisfaction.”

She emphasises the inclusive nature of her fashion show, where participants span diverse backgrounds, from IAS officers to rickshaw pullers. “My aim is to eradicate any sense of inferiority complex among these individuals and make them realize their equality. I want them to understand that their disabilities do not define them or diminish their worth,” Ritu asserts.

Her journey into the realm of social service was shaped by personal tragedy. At the age of nineteen, Ritu faced the heart-wrenching loss of her mother, who succumbed to cancer. Inspired by a professional fashion show for the disabled in Delhi, Ritu resolved to extend this opportunity to common disabled individuals as well. Since its inception, the fashion show has grown exponentially.

In 2021, Ritu took the plunge and organized the first-ever fashion show for the disabled in Jaipur. However, the road to success was anything but easy. Financial constraints loomed large, and sponsors were hesitant to lend their support to a novel, untested concept.

Individuals from diverse backgrounds took to the ramp, exuding confidence and grace. It was a celebration of diversity—a poignant reminder that beauty knows no bounds. Reflecting on the challenges, Ritu recalls, “We faced financial constraints and lacked sponsors initially. Nonetheless, we persevered, and subsequent editions garnered overwhelming support from sponsors.”

Through her engagement with the disabled community, Ritu has gained invaluable insights into their lives and challenges.

“Given the opportunity, they shine brightly and inspire us all,” she remarks. This profound loss ignited a fire within Ritu—a fire fuelled by a desire to make a difference in the lives of others, just as her mother had done.

Since then, Ritu’s fashion show has grown exponentially, attracting participants from all corners of the country. In 2021 alone, over 150 disabled individuals showcased their talents on the runway, captivating audiences with their poise and charm. For many, it was a life-changing experience—one that shattered stereotypes and instilled a newfound sense of pride and self-worth.

At the heart of Ritu’s initiative lies a simple yet powerful message: inclusivity. In her fashion show, there is no room for discrimination or prejudice. Every individual, regardless of their physical abilities, is welcomed with open arms—a testament to the transformative power of acceptance.

The impact of the fashion show extends beyond the ramp, empowering women to step out of their comfort zones and fostering new connections within the disabled community. Ritu recounts touching encounters with participants’ families, who express gratitude for the newfound confidence and independence instilled in their loved ones.

In addition to the fashion show, Ritu endeavours to recognize and support disabled women making strides in empowerment and employment.

“My aim is to create avenues for maximum employment opportunities for the disabled community,” she states, underscoring her commitment to effecting meaningful change.

When money mattered a lot

At the age of nineteen, Ritu faced the heart-wrenching loss of her mother, who succumbed to cancer. Inspired by a fashion show for the disabled in Delhi, Ritu resolved to extend this opportunity to common disabled individuals as well. In 2021, Ritu took the plunge and organized the first-ever fashion show for the disabled in Jaipur. However, the road to success was anything but easy. Financial constraints loomed large, and sponsors were hesitant to lend their support to a novel, untested concept.

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