As someone whose work has always been in front of the camera, I must admit that as the years went by, I expanded my horizons (and waist) to have my kids. I often felt the need to catch up backward. It was now time for me to find some much-needed inspiration from people whose stories inspire me for my future.
Dinesh Mohan, a 62-year-old male model, walks for India’s top designers. That’s enough of a stand-out story but there’s more to him, I realized, as he spoke to me about self-love and beauty standards. Dinesh Mohan recognizes that he is an exception in the fashion world – he went from being overweight and confined to his bed to becoming an actor and a model.
His journey of personal transformation began when most other models were well into their retirement. It started at 53.
“It is easy to change on the outside by wearing clothes and makeup but on the inside, if you are defeated, nothing can save you.” Says Dinesh who at 62 says he feels 26.
But it wasn’t always like this. Far from it.
I ask Dinesh why he described himself not long ago as‘ fat and sick’ – was he being unfairly harsh on himself?
“I indulge in no age shaming of any kind but in my case, I was eating to punish myself and the result was that for 5-7 years I needed assistance even to walk, and was fully bedridden for 10 months. So in my case, I was being brutally honest.”
How did he go from being unable to walk to walking runways, modeling, and then acting in movies as if to the role born?
“ It might sound like a cliché but it was spirituality that really helped and I told myself why not give myself a chance at life. I had given up in front of the negative circumstances around me, forced to retire from a comfortable government job. But then it was a choice between living like this for ever or giving life a chance. I started by going out with great courage, even though some people would look at me and laugh. Then I joined a gym and started swimming again. Doing all this while being seen by judgmental people made me very strong.”
With a local newspaper carrying his ‘before and after’ journey, Dinesh was spotted and soon appeared in some big ads including one for BMW, where while taking a break during the shoot, his signature look was captured and went viral. He is now also known for his own brand of insta-swag and a mass following.
“I live on social media,” says Dinesh. “I love observing people, stepping out, going out for coffee and watching the world go by. There was so much I couldn’t do that I can do now. The first step on the ramp and people went crazy. So yes, I guess I am an exception in the fashion world.”
The world is hungry for more exceptions. It’s the kind of inspiration everybody needs. Dinesh is both exception and inspiration with style and heart.
“I am so grateful to all the negative circumstances and people I met. It is because of them that I am where I am today.”