MODEL STORIES

Words by @sweetchutney: “Representation is important to me because I saw no one who looked like me represented in mainstream media. I grew up with a destructive mentality of thinking beauty was one dimensional as a result. Beauty not only comes in different shapes, shades and sizes but is also defined by an individuals intrinsic qualities as well. The definition of a model has changed to reflect this shift. I’ve realised, brands want to work with genuine people, who are caring, kind, loving and accepting of everyone. Good looks mean nothing if you don’t have a kind heart to back it all up.


As a BIPOC model in the industry, I can feel when brands have used me for genuine inclusivity and representation, as well as the opposite to that - for some sort of performative diversity that has made me feel like a token in big campaigns.


I got my start doing a @savagexfenty campaign and @fentybeauty campaign in London with Rihanna. Australia only really embraced me after I did these shoots- like I became worthy (of their attention).


I always think had I not done those shoots, would things be the same for me? If the world hadn’t shifted and included more diverse models in their campaigns, would Australia ever take the lead and spearhead change? Sadly, I think the answer is No. My one goal being in the industry would be to see the change START here in Australia! Why does Australia always have to follow? Why can’t we be the pioneers for change right here right now?”


Words by @aiyanaalexander: “I was born and raised in Australia and have always relished in the multiculturalism that we have to offer here. And sadly, when I first started in the industry that beautiful multiculturalism wasn’t truly represented and celebrated. At the age of 14, being a black, size 10 girl, I found it extremely challenging to find my stride and completely break into the industry due to the beauty standards that Australia held so steadfast (typically, a size 6-8 blonde) and not seeing women that looked like me frequently book magazine covers, campaigns or runways. I found it hard to book jobs, often questioned whether being in this industry was something I really wanted to do, and went as far as relaxing my natural hair and trying to lose weight to try to fit into a mold. As I have gotten older, I have seen the barriers that surround the industry slowly begin to break down. While we still have a long way to go, I am seeing more ethnicities, body types/shapes, heights, and abilities celebrated. I want young boys and girls, no matter what they look like, to be able to identify with the models they see in magazines and shopping windows. And I hope that with more people asking for change in the industry that equal inclusivity will be the norm, because there is room for all of us.”

Words by @eshavantha: “I’ve been in the industry for almost 10 years now. I was young and excited to jump in. However, I quickly learned that I was entering a heavily ‘white-washed’ industry.

I do understand it’s an industry based on physical appearance and ‘perceived attractiveness’ but I thought my success would and should be predicated on my ability to fit the job description as opposed to just playing the ‘token’ person of colour role. I’ve lost major campaigns with brands, only to see them pick someone with less pigment than me (to put it politely).

I’ve had hair stylists not know what to do with my natural hair or that my hair will take too long to style. Other times I’ve been so worried about whether the MUA at the shoot will have the right shade of foundation for my skin tone - which in turn made me feel like I couldn’t perform my job as well.

Does this mean I’m detouring young WOC from entering the industry? Absolutely not, this is just a reality check, that its not always fancy houses, free clothes and dinners paid by clients.

I’m not trying to bring the industry down or taking digs at anyone; I love what I do. This is merely shedding light on some of the challenges WOC face in an industry where we don’t fit into the stereotype of what IS or IS NOT “attractive”.

I want to be a voice for younger WOC & POC in the industry, to show them that we can make it!”

Words by Barsha (@chilli.flakez): “Modelling is definitely not about how glam or fashionable you are; it's about you, your story and your message for the young/future generations. I moved here 5 years ago from Bangladesh and I wanted to be model in my country, but had to start here. When I started, I was literally shocked at the monoculturalism of the modelling world and how it didn’t represent our beautiful diverse Australia. While people are so friendly, supportive and so diverse in Australia, unfortunately the media was not. That's where I stepped in because we need change and I want to be a voice for younger generations especially brown skin girls. I know so many Bangladeshi women that want to model but looking at billboards/campaigns they step back thinking we can't make it. I wanted to (show them) we can make it and I'm glad to see how the modelling world is changing. I want to be a part of the world where we welcome women of all colours, sizes, shapes, heights and we celebrate each other. Thank you Aussie WOC for your support!