for as long as i can remember, i’ve always wanted to look nice in front of the camera. though i don’t have the pics anymore, but i remember flipping through old picture albums of my sister & i, or us both with our parents, and in almost each picture i would strike a pose. there’s an Indonesian word for it: centil. 😀
so of course it was only natural that my mum enrolled me to a modelling school when i was 11 years old. we were taught how to walk on catwalks with perfect postures, wearing high heels (btw, i should probably mention that i was the oldest in the class… the others were younger than me, starting from 6 years old. and yes, those little kids also had to wear high heels!), and also making poses in front of the camera. the school owner was a known Indonesian model, and since the school was also basically her own modelling agency, parents and kids alike enrolled to this school/agency in the hope that they (the kids) would then get to be chosen for real modelling gigs, either for fashion photo shoots, print ads or tv ads.
i had a great time in the school, and enjoyed being as centil as i could be in front of the camera. but no matter how hard i tried, and how long i waited, i never got any call or request from the agency for any gig.
i didn’t let that get me down, though. during my teenage years, there was this super popular local teen magazine beauty pageant that was held annually. i sent my pictures there every year, thinking that maybe, finally, this year it would happen, that i would at least get to be the first chosen 100 (or whatever it was back then, 50? 75? can’t remember). i was pretty obsessed with it too, i started making my own drawings of girls’ faces, first 50 different faces, and then i would show it around my mum and sister and
forced asked them to choose 25 best ones, and redraw those 25 faces, and again choose 10 all the way down to 3 faces, until i could determine the winner.
but still, over the years of trying to get in to the pageant, i never even made it to the top 100.
at the same time, puberty hit me real hard and during most of my teenage years my face was almost always covered with zits and acnes. it was around this time that i finally realized that that ‘dream’ of mine would never come true. i was just not meant to be a model. so i started thinking about working behind the modelling scenes. not as a makeup artist, but as a fashion designer.
even without any ‘proper’ fashion education, i was lucky enough to be able to work at a local magazine as a fashion editor, albeit only for a short time. when i had to do the photo shoot test (before i got accepted for the job), it was just as fun as if i was in front of the camera myself, because i had to style the models with the clothes of my choice AND make them pose like so in front of the camera. really, what more could i ask? after i got accepted, every time i had to do a photo shoot, i made sure that the models i chose would be as diverse as possible from one another. for this edition’s spread i would choose a super white and pale model, the next i would choose darker skin toned model. this week super serious and expressionless, the next super happy and joyful.
it was important to me, because i knew how it felt to be excluded. i was probably not white enough, not smooth skinned enough, not tall enough to be a model, and that was probably the reason why i never got in to the teen beauty pageants. i will never know the real reason, but that was how it felt to me. it might not make any difference back then when i was a fashion editor, what model i chose to represent a specific theme, since they were all professional models anyway. but to the people who saw the spread, to the readers, it might make them feel less excluded. at least, i hope it did.
after i quitted the job to concentrate on my own boutique (not really my own, it belonged to the three of us, my 2 friends and i), i got a surprise call from my ex-boss at that magazine where i worked, asking me if i would like to be one of the models for one of their coming spreads. it was this ‘real people’ fashion spread kind of thing, and they needed people with all kinds of different body types for the spread. and of course i said yes. 😀
that was my first real ‘gig’ as a ‘model’, with 3 full pages of myself wearing different kinds of designers clothes (that i would never even dream of trying on, seeing the price tags was enough to make me feel like fainting). did i have fun? i sure did. i had fun having a makeup artist covering my zits & acnes scars, the hairstylist curling my super thick hair, the photographer & fashion editor (my ex boss) letting me strike a pose on my own. and the payment was not bad either. 😉
that was also my last modelling gig. a few short years after that photo shoot, i moved to this new country, and ever since then all the ‘modelling’ i have done were solely for my own entertainment (i.e. for my blog).
to this date, i still have acnes and zits. in fact, as i’m writing this, there are no less than 5 big ones on my chin. ouch.
i still don’t like looking at my own reflection in the mirror. don’t get me wrong, i’ve learned to accept the fact that my skin is permanently tanned and my face is permanently covered in scars (and now there’s even more scars from my chickenpox time), my hair is always unruly and wild. i just don’t like spending time in front of the mirror to further examine all those imperfections.
i still enjoy taking pictures of myself, striking a pose in front of the camera, whether it be serious, silly, cute, scary, or just plain absurd. it’s all for me, so who cares if my scars are visible in the pictures? who cares if my skin colour doesn’t really go well with certain-coloured dress?
for years now, i have learned more and more to accept the way i look. and now when i am actually comfortable in my own skin, a surprise came again about a week ago.
i was doing my work as usual, when all of a sudden one my ‘customers’ asked if i would be interested to be their model. it turned out that they work at a production agency, and are always in need of all kinds of models from different backgrounds to be used in print and video ads. i must have looked quite sweaty and oily from the face at that moment, since it’s been quite hot here in the summer, and oh my zits… i don’t even know where to begin. and yet they were all smiling at me, and excitedly took my datas after i said that whenever they would need someone like me for a gig, they could give me a call and i would think about it. and they even thought i was a Japanese. 😀
they gave me a name card, so i could see what kind of ads they have done, etc. so i did… and saw that some of them were actually for quite known brands here. i’m not gonna lie though, i have a feeling they never would actually need me, but nevertheless it was a nice thing for me to experience (?). it kind of made my day, which i guess is pretty sad, but i decided to write about it anyway (and what a long post this is!).
it made me feel thankful that i moved away from my home country, and that in this country having a different skin colour, different face, & different hair than the rest of the population is okay. it’s actually GOOD. 🙂