Historically, children from the slums have appeared in critically acclaimed films like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Salaam Bombay!”. These days, however, social media is doing its part to provide an equal forum for everyone to be seen.

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Luxury skincare brand Forest Essentials has found a new face in Maleesha Kharwa, a 15-year-old girl from the slums of Mumbai’s Dharavi. The brand first announced the news in March 2023, revealing Kharwa to the world as the new Yuvati (roughly translating to young woman).

It’s a remarkable feat for Kharwa, who has since emerged as the new face of the luxury skincare brand.

Kharwa’s inspiring story is a powerful reminder that dreams can come true. Kharwa’s long-term aspiration is to become a top supermodel. And she’s well on her way, boasting an impressive 230,000 followers on Instagram. Because of her, the hashtag #theprincessfromtheslum is trending on social media.

Maleesha Kharwa’s Wealth of Support

Robert Hoffman with Maleesha Kharwa | Credit: Hindustan Times

At only ten years old, Maleesha’s talent caught the attention of Hollywood actor and choreographer Robert Hoffman (Step Up 2, She’s the Man). During the filming of a music video in Mumbai, Maleesha was up for a role; however she lost out to her cousin, due to her height.

Hoffman advised her to try her luck in the modelling industry and subsequently created an Instagram account on her behalf. She quickly went viral – and there was a massive outpouring of support for the young talent.

Following this, he launched a “GoFundMe” campaign for Maleesha, garnering an impressive 300,000 supporters in a short span of time. Many of these very supporters have since become avid admirers of Maleesha.

Lasy year, Kharwa was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan India’s anniversary edition.

Credit: Instagram @cosmoindia

“I find it strange when people ask me how I am such a happy person; they don’t think it is normal to be happy because I am poor…but I love my life,”

says 14-year-old model Maleesha Kharwa (@maleeshakharwa).

“Right now, my life is taking me on adventures that I cannot believe. I am thrilled that so many people are reaching out to me and telling me that my journey has inspired them to be unafraid and chase their dreams—no matter how big or small.”

Maleesha Kharwa’s inspiring tale serves as a poignant reminder that although social media has the potential to provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, it also gives people the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality #BecauseYourDreamsMatter.

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