Money & Careers

A makeover with Malar

For beauty's sake: Transgender Malar enjoys her work as a beautician Photo: M. Periasamy.   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

Malar is an expert at jadai alangaram for brides. She makes the kondai and the flower ornaments herself and rarely goes in for the ready-to-fix hairdos available in the market. “I want to make things as special as possible for my clients,” she says. Facials, eyebrows, make-up, mehendi...they're all part of her bridal package. Two-and-a-half hours with her, and the bride is transformed into an angel, she says. During the wedding season, the 32-year-old is kept busy on her feet. “Sometimes, I have four to five bookings per day,” she beams. Malar is a transgender, but one who has had the support of her family and friends, and who considers herself fortunate.

She recalls the typical Monday morning when as a 13-year-old boy living in a close-knit household in Sundarapuram, she underwent a life-altering change, emotionally. She knew then that she was different. “I gradually took to feminine habits,” she says. “The boys in school taunted me. But at home, my parents built a protective cocoon around me. I was extremely fortunate.”

Neighbours did not shun her either. As a teenager, Malar followed her neighbour Andal around. “I accompanied her on her visits to temples and watched intently as the priest decorated the deity. Within minutes, the deity would be transformed into a sight to behold. It was then that I realised the significance of oppanai (make-up).”

Early calling

Malar's interest in make up deepened and she tried her hand at it in school. She was soon a sought-after make-up artist for functions. “After I dropped out of school and underwent a sex-change operation, I decided to become a make-up artist professionally,” she says.

She trained under a beautician in her neighbourhood for six months. With the assistance of the Native Medicare Charitable Trust (NMCT), she also completed a certificate course in Herbal beauty care at Avinashilingam University.

“I'm enjoying my work as a beautician. Over the last three years, I've dressed up about 100 brides,” she says. But it took her years of hard work to get here. “I started off with girls in my neighbourhood,” she says. “I gradually acquired a network of customers over the years.” Malar also offers to make-up brides from under-privileged backgrounds for free. “During the World Classical Tamil Conference, I got the opportunity to make-up karagattam dancers and drama artistes,” she says. How easy is it to book her for a wedding? “You have to let me know at least three months in advance,” she says. “This is so that I can ready the necessary ornaments to match the outfit of the bride.” Twice a week, Malar serves at a beauty parlour at the NMCT office from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. “I attend to fellow transgenders at a subsidised cost.”

Malar says she has never faced any reservation from her customers because she is a transgender.

“I don't know if it's because they don't know I am one or, they don't care even if I was. Either way, I'm happy.” Malar believes she is one of the lucky few in her community to have gained the acceptance of the people. She also feels that others could be accepted too if they worked for it. "I feel the effort has to come from our side. If we (transgenders) are approachable and equip ourselves better, we will have no problems at all.”

Ask her what her amibition is she promptly replies, “Politics.” She says, “I would love to try my hand at it in the future.” Malar also writes Tamil poems. She signs off with one of them:

“Oyyara oppanaiyum nalina nadayum

Alavida mudiyaa azhagu sadhanangalum

Verum alangaara porutkal alla

Engal oonathin oondru koalgal”

The gist of which is, “Our makeovers, feminine strides and the limitless beauty products aren't just things of ornamentation, they are a support to our handicap.”


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 6:22:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/money-and-careers/a-makeover-with-malar/article2343238.ece

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