Manu Bebo, Kashmir’s first transgender makeup artist is breaking barriers in her area. Manu is winning hearts all over social media with her flawless makeup tutorials.
Speaking to Geo News, Manu said, “Everyone appreciates my work. It makes me feel very happy and proud.”
Manu was born in a middle class family in Srinagar and was raised as a boy. She had a happy childhood like other children. She enjoyed playing video games. But as she turned 13, she started feeling different.
“After my sister got married, I was feeling very lonely. I had many female friends and I started realising that I too wanted to be a girl. I started to wonder why God didn’t make me a girl,” Manu said.
She said with time she understood that she had the “soul” of a girl.
She received backlash from family, friends and relatives for thinking like this. She faced rejection and society made fun of her.
“I was badly bullied during my high school days and I felt mentally tortured to such an extent that I decided to quit my studies. Later on, I got used to it, and eventually, I didn’t care.”
She said that even her family was ridiculed because of her. But as the time passed, they too stopped caring about what others said.
Manu was not able to continue her studies after the 12th grade but she was ambitious to make something of herself. She decided to start her own business.
Transgender community in Kashmir mostly earns their living by singing and dancing at weddings or by matchmaking. But Manu chose to stand out and make her own way. That is when she decided to improve her makeup skills.
“Makeup is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and when one has an opportunity to start a career in something that is enjoyable, then why not do that? I am totally self-taught and don’t have any professional training,” said Manu, who speaks and writes fluently in English.
Manu started her venture four years back and with her hard work and commitment, she earned a name for herself everywhere in Kashmir. She has thousands of followers on social media.
“I believe in doing the work that earns you respect. Why should I dance at weddings and bear people’s shameless, humiliating laughter?”
Manu credited her mother for her success.
“I am happy with my life. I don’t have any regrets. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or how they react. I earn my own money and my family is fine with whatever I do.”
She said that people in Kashmir are supportive and people are more welcoming and respectful of them.
Motivating her fellow transgenders, she said, “To all the transgenders out there, or even those people who are forced to hide: be yourself, as life is too short to give weight to what people think. Whether you do good or bad, people will always have something negative to say. So just don’t pay attention to such people, and rise, like a boss.”
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