After living in Singapore for two years, and hearing "you just don't have the look we're going for" far too many times, I finally walked the runway for the first time here. It's taken so long to get here, but I think it was good because I still had a lot of growing to do and rejections to face before I could really appreciate what this means.
I had all but hung up my heels and thought that perhaps modelling wasn't for me, and that I'd never encounter real opportunities because, as someone once said to me, "perhaps Singapore isn't ready for black models." One of the only black models I knew here was a tall Afro-Brazilian goddess, and even she's gone now. So not only did I have diversity going against me, but I'm also 1-2 sizes too big for high fashion.
When I told people this, the reaction is often shock! Horror! The injustice! How ludicrously skinny do models have to be?! Whilst the modelling industry does have a plethora of faults and disappointments when it comes to size and body image, I also know that smaller sizes are often preferred be designers for practical reasons. It takes a lot of time, money and fabric to prepare a collection for a show, so designers make sample sizes only - both to save a bit on fabric, and to not have the hassle of fitting dozens of models. It's pragmatic to the core - they don't have time to waste so if you fit, you wear it. If you don't, you're out.
When I first received a message from one of the organisers that I should go to the casting, I politely declined because I was one size short of fulfilling the requirement and try as I might, there was no way I could squeeze what my mamma gave me into a UK 8. However, she got back to me and encouraged me to try anyway. I went to the casting and I got in! Well, everyone at the casting did, but no one needs to know that ;)
However, I was completely stunned when later in the week I received a call from a booker at NOW Model Management who had been at the casting as well. She wanted me to come into the office to talk about signing with them!
When I went into the office, I found myself staring at a wall of flawless Asian, Eurasian and Pan-Asian faces, and I secretly wondered what I was doing there and whether there was really a place for me there. It all seemed a bit surreal, and I couldn't imagine why they would possibly want me, but they told me they were super excited about signing their first black model and some other really great things that I can't repeat without sounding conceited af.
Anyway, fast-forward two weeks to the Zalora fashion show. Picture me backstage, practicing my walk and drinking milo (it has calcium or something, leave me alone), getting ready to go on and praying I didn't trip in my heels. Unlike Nancy Sinatra, my heels were not made for walking, they were made for standing and only walking to and from the cab. That's it.
Somehow, I made it though! With slightly sweaty palms and feet (not helped by wearing a leather jacket outdoors on a tropical island), I stepped onto that runway and, whilst the nerves didn't all go away, I felt like this was what I was meant to be doing. The crowd was considerably large, but I quickly spotted my friends and for what felt like the first time ever, I successfully winked! Normally I do a blinky-wink thing because I'm a bit of a spaz who can only aspire to sexiness. However, this time my wink actually was electric (according to my friends)! Yeh, watch out Megan Fox.
I'm really excited to start working with NOW when I come back from Paris in January. In the meantime, imma be up in the gym just working on my fitness (because I must confess I haven't been in the gym since November) so that when I come back I'll be toned and actually able to walk up three flights of stairs without being winded. That would be nice.
Pepper & Söl