Shanil’s struggle: Make-up artist turns hobby into career to survive

Abandoned by his family because of his feminine behaviour, Shanil says he fended for himself at the age of 20. Picture: SUPPLIED

After being forced to leave his home because of his sexual orientation, Shanil Kumar was determined to make something of his life.

Being disowned by family marked the beginning of a difficult journey which eventually led to success for the aspiring young make-up artist.

Kumar said pervasive discrimination negatively impacted all aspects of his life.

“After completing Year 12, I was told by my family to move out of the house. I was constantly criticised and discriminated for my feminine behaviour.

“I had no form of support after moving out and was under a lot of stress and depression. I even reached a point where I thought of ending my life. Everyone had their opinion of me and they weren’t good ones.

“Bullying and trolling also took a serious toll on me and I began to spiral out of control.”

In a bid to bring some stability into his life, Kumar began exploring make-up artistry.

He also said the challenges in trying to master the art helped him develop, work hard and become independent.

“My biggest challenge was moving out of the house at the age of 20, I started pursuing my life in make-up artistry.

“Make-up was something I picked as a hobby and slowly transformed it into a business, it allows me to share the creative side of me. After I started living on my own, I became a different person.

“I had a positive outlook on life and the people around me.”

Since the launch of his artistry business – Bridal Creation Fiji by Shanil a few years ago – Kumar has become a household name with a growing client base.

“My biggest achievements was when I started getting lots of make-up appointments and was declared one of the youngest successful make-up artists in Fiji.

“I do make-up for weddings, birthdays, photo shoots and many other occasions.

“I still have more to achieve in life, my dream is to have an established brand name which is widely recognised. I’m working towards it.”

Like most other businesses, Kumar said the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on his business as events have been cancelled due to social distancing restrictions.

His message to people facing sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity issues “is to not let it deter you in achieving goals in life”.

“Follow your dreams no matter what society or family members say about you.

“Do not let it suppress your identity, talent and skills.

“Always be positive and disregard the negative behaviour or impact thrown at you, that’s the key to success.”

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