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Maria Thattil and brother Dom on challenging the beauty standards in Australia

''Three years ago, I didn't even see the space that I would fit in in the industry.''
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She became a well-known face following her strut across the Miss Universe Australia stage, but there is more to Maria Thattil’s story than her appearance and now she and brother Dom are on the hunt for more.

The siblings are taking on their next role as judges for the 2023 Designer Brands (DB) Cosmetics x Bella Management Unsigned Model Search. But they aren’t just searching for visuals.

“We are looking for people that are missing from the industry.”

(Image: Instagram)

“Effectively were looking for new Australian talent who, I guess have a story to tell and want to be the representation that maybe they haven’t seen,” Maria expressed.

“We are looking for people that are missing from the industry because effectively what we want to empower the winner – whoever wins – is they don’t enter the industry, they’re going to change it.”

Maria and Dom’s parents migrated from India to Australia in the early 1990s. As a person of colour, Dom admitted he didn’t see the “space” for him in the entertainment industry.

“Three years ago, I didn’t even see the space that I would fit in in the industry, and the beauty of an [company] like Bella is they not only help create that space for you but they put everything behind you,” he said.

“Being Australian comes in all shapes [and] all sizes.”

(Image: Instagram)

Maria responded: “I was growing up in a time where what you saw represented onscreen and in campaigns, people headlining these shows and behind the scenes of shows, effectively, they were representing a small part of the country.

“What happened there was we changed the way an entire population sees themselves and we start to create these ideas of what is beautiful in Australia.”

The lack of representation can cause young impressionable children to feel powerless or unsuccessful, and more commonly “not Australian enough.” The media’s selective view of beauty had a big influence on Dom.

“I found myself wearing white foundation and blue eye contacts to match a media that didn’t actually reflect the communities and the people that I was surrounded by,” he confessed.

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Even when Maria entered the Miss Universe Australia competition in 2019, she received a hateful comment which read: “We liken her representing Australia to someone sending a white, blonde hair blue eyed person to represent Kenya.”

However, the Unsigned Modeling is the opportunity to change the industry from the inside, spearheaded by Maria and Dom.

“When were looking for new talent for this modeling contract, we aren’t just looking for faces, were looking for voices,” she said.

Dom replied: “Being Australian comes in all shapes [and] all sizes.”

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