No impairment can be bigger than your dream, and that's the maxim 22-year-old Vinita Babali Shirodkar from Morjim always carried around with her.
Vinita never allowed her hearing impairment to come in the way of her dreams and went on to win the Miss Deaf India 2023 title, and later, a 4th position in the Miss & Mister Deaf International Contest in Tanzania, Africa.
Vinita pursued her schooling up to 12th standard at Sanjay School, Porvorim, where she excelled, achieving a distinction with an impressive 76 per cent.
From a young age, Vinita harboured a deep passion for fashion, watching videos, practising dance and participating in competitions.
Nurturing this interest, she began learning dance at home, focusing on kathak. With growing confidence and encouragement from her hearing-impaired friends, she decided to take a leap of faith into the world of pageantry.
In a notable turn of events, Vinita participated in the Miss and Mister Deaf India competition during the Purple Fest 2023. Her dedication and talent shone through and she clinched the prestigious title of Miss Deaf India 2023.
This triumph opened the doors for her to represent India at the Miss and Mister Deaf International Contest in Tanzania, Africa. Her performance on the global stage was remarkable, securing her the 4th position in the competition.
Vinita’s journey is a testament to her perseverance, passion and determination in overcoming challenges and achieving success in beauty pageants.
Responding to what inspired and motivated her to participate in beauty pageants, she says, “My mother’s (Vijata Babali Shirodkar) unwavering support has always been a significant driving force. She never discouraged me from participating in any cultural programs."
"I have always had a deep passion for dance and enjoyed watching modelling on TV. I aspired to achieve something significant for myself and my family," shares Vinita.
Vinita Babali Shirodkar
"The experience so far has been filled with hope, positivity and excitement. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. Becoming a well-known face in my deaf community and Goa is a significant achievement for me,” she adds.
Vinita, a deaf community member, participated in beauty pageant competitions to raise awareness and empower the community.
She understands the challenges and stereotypes faced by individuals with hearing impairments and advocates for inclusivity, equality and understanding.
Vinita showcases the talents and potential of the deaf community, challenging societal perceptions. Her participation in beauty pageants amplified her voice, highlighting the need for equal opportunities and recognition.
This cause holds personal significance for Vinita, as it shapes her life and resonates with others facing similar challenges.
Through her platform, she aims to inspire positive change and contribute to a more inclusive society, making a lasting impact on the lives of those within the deaf community and beyond.
She says, “My goal is to promote inclusion and understanding of deaf culture, sign language, and education, aiming to enhance awareness and promote a comprehensive understanding of the deaf community.”
Being part of such prestigious pageants has challenges, and for Vinita, it was no different.
She says, “One notable obstacle I encountered was transitioning from a small family background to performing on an international platform."
"With limited prior experience, I had to depend on the support of friends and online resources, such as YouTube lessons, to enhance my skills in grooming, language, modelling and dance," she continues.
"This learning and practice journey significantly contributed to my personal growth, transforming me into a more confident individual capable of facing such challenges. Another substantial challenge was the financial aspect, but I was fortunate to receive assistance from numerous kind-hearted individuals," she mentions.
Participating in Miss Deaf International has profoundly influenced Vinita and her perspective on deaf advocacy and inclusivity.
She says, “Interacting with deaf individuals from various corners of the world exposed me to their remarkable skills and talents. This experience has fuelled my determination to collaborate with the deaf community in Goa, inspiring them to dream big and set ambitious goals in life.”
In terms of personal and professional development, Vinita harbours aspirations to secure a stable government job, aiming to contribute significantly to her family’s well-being.
Additionally, she envisions pursuing further educational qualifications, provided circumstances permit, intending to enhance her skills and expand her range of opportunities.
Given that we are in a competitive world where effective communication is a must she says, “I have actively worked on improving my skills, particularly in situations with language barriers. Utilizing sign language is my primary mode of communication within the deaf community."
However, in situations where the other party may not comprehend sign language, she employs written English. Consistent practice, including reading and watching sign language videos, has played a pivotal role in boosting her confidence during such communication challenges, she says.
Vinita Shirodkar is an embodiment of a resilient and determined spirit. To young girls like herself, she says, “I would offer advice to step forward, dream big and set high aspirations. Don’t be hesitant; venture out and strive for independence, even in travel."
"Embrace the opportunity to learn new skills and cultivate hobbies. Remember, nothing is too challenging if you possess the inner determination to pursue it. Persevere, following the adage, 'Try and try until you succeed!'” she advises.