Some people seem to think that as long as you have (1) a good camera, (2) a great outfit and (3) lots of ‘likes’ on Instagram, then you are instantly “a model” in Brunei Darussalam.
But this is actually not! Being a model is so much more than having just these 3 things.
This was what Siddiqah Rosli (@siddiqahrosli), a Bruneian who does modelling part time, told ‘Neue’ in a recent interview.
Siddiqah, who currently has close to 4,000 followers on her Instagram account, and two other Bruneians – Jessica Tieng (@jessicatieng) who describes herself as ‘petite’ and Balqis (@aishahyazid) who describes herself as ‘plus-sized’ – are hoping to smash any misconceptions of modelling in Brunei.
Modelling in Brunei: What does the local community think about it? Is it frowned upon?
The modelling community (not industry) in Brunei developed only recently due to high demand for human resource in the emerging local fashion market.
For this reason, I think the matter of “frowned upon” is highly subjective to how Bruneians view modelling in the country.
For example, local fashion designers may see it as opportunities to revamp their brand (having fresh faces or looks), while others may mistakenly see them a nuisance (being vain and full of themselves) on social media. More often than not, they are just trying to promote themselves as aspiring models.
However, I personally think that modelling in Brunei “may” be easily frowned upon if individuals who are serious in pursuing a modelling career do not possess certain qualities or do not monitor what they post on their social media accounts. At the end of the day, what they post up will indirectly reflect their reputation, as far as modelling is concerned.
Modelling is both fun and challenging. It sparks my creativity especially when I have to think of what poses to do next.
It is always rewarding whenever my clients are satisfied with my performance and they actually like the shots.
Every time after a photoshoot, I will always do some self-reflection and think about what I can do to improve at my next modelling gig.
Being a model is not just about being good at posing, having the right facial expression and embodying certain characters, to me it’s about creating a platform, to have a voice and to have audience who will actually listen to what you have to say and at the same time, to help and inspire others. – Siddiqah
Modelling, in my perspective, isn’t at all frowned upon in Brunei. When I first started, I thought that that was the case so I kept my identity a secret by not mentioning it at all in hopes that no one would recognise me.
But, I guess Brunei really is small so I started getting noticed even though I had only modelled for one boutique.
My family and friends have been nothing but really supportive of my choice. I sometimes get recognised at events, where people would come up to me to say they had seen me somewhere before.
It’s inspiring to know that people like me are accepted even if we do not fit in the typical beauty standard. – Balqis
Personally, I feel that the local community seems okay with people modelling. I don’t think it is frowned upon. However, pursuing a career in modelling is difficult in Brunei because there isn’t much of a market here yet. On the contrary, the small-scale fashion industry in Brunei is slowly growing lately. This provides opportunities to aspiring models such as myself to model and gain experiences which is great. Additionally, nowadays with social media, it is easier to network with other people in the modelling community such as photographers and designers.
Some businesses now also take advantage of social media to grow their business such as sponsoring social influencers to make an awareness of a certain product or service that they are providing. Therefore, I feel like in the future there might be more opportunities for growth to pursue modelling in Brunei.
Being a model (although, I still don’t call myself one because I feel like I still have lots to learn) is really fun! You get to meet and work with a lot of different people. It may seem scary meeting new people at first, but you’ll slowly learn to get used to situations like that.
Also, I used to have very low self-esteem and disliked some features of my body while growing up! Surprisingly, modelling actually helped me in terms of building up my self-confidence and self esteem. I also get to learn to love myself more, flaws and all, which is a great. – Jessica
Power of Social Media
Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner), with 94 million followers on Instagram, is living proof that social media’s influence has forever changed the modelling industry. Last November, she was ranked as the highest-paid model in the world, knocking supermodel Gisele Bundchen (@gisele) off the top spot for the first time since 2002. According to Forbes, Jenner’s earnings totalled US$22 million that year.
Siddiqah spoke about a funny encounter at a primary school classroom where she was assigned as part of a teacher training programme.
“The first thing that a student said to me when the classroom teacher introduced me to the class was, ‘You’re a model, right? I know you from Instagram.’ It was such a humbling experience. This was when I realised that the students look up to me positively. It is for this reason that I would like to use my modelling career as a stepping stone, where I would be able to reach out to these kids. This is the direction I’m taking … to inspire people,” she said.
Balqis, meanwhile, said that it’s comforting to know that people these days are accepting of people like me who are plus-sized. “Brunei is a small community, and word quickly spread that I had pursued modelling. People here don’t really say things like ‘Oh! Why is she a model?’ People have actually been quite accepting of me,” she said.
What do I need to know if I’m thinking about pursuing modelling?
#1. Be ready for rejection
It’s not always gonna be a smooth ride – you’re not gonna be booked every single time. The important thing is to never give up. Even though, it may never seem like it, there’s always bound to be a person who will see potential in you, take you under their wing and give you opportunities to help you gain experiences and grow.
“I’m lucky to have a few people who saw potential in me and took me under their wing,” said Jessica. “That’s how I slowly grew in modelling.”
Be prepared to hear this often – “Sorry! You’re not the type of model we’re looking for.”
It’s normal to have rejections. So don’t be so hard on yourself. – Siddiqah
#2. Don’t take things so personal
Sometimes, if you go to a casting and you didn’t get the gig in the end, it’s not because of your appearance or anything like that. Sometimes, it could be just that you are probably not what they are looking for at the moment for their project (they might be looking for a specific look as well). – Jessica
#3. Have a good support system
It’s good to have people around you who will support you during the good times and bad, especially when you feel inadequate and feel like giving up sometimes. At times, you need a good pep talk to get you back on your feet. Being surrounded with good company will also help you boost your self confidence. – Jessica
#4. Getting scouted is not easy
It’s not going to be easy. There will always be people prettier than you. Just because you’ve done a lot of things before, it doesn’t guarantee you the spot. So it’s not going to be easy. Casting calls can be a nerve wreck-inducing affair and a stressful process for any model. At the end of the day, you just have to keep putting yourself out there.
#5. People are going to critique you once you put yourself out there so be ready mentally
Siddiqah told ‘Neue’ that when she first launched her website, someone sent her an e-mail saying, “So you think you’re a model? Keep on dreaming girl!” (Editor’s note: Whoever wrote that mean e-mail … Shame on you!)
“Getting these kinds of comments or people bashing about you either straight to your face or through your friends is normal. And all you have to do is just listen, accept then decide if its beneficial for you to grow as an individual or not,” Siddiqah said.
#6. Strong will and determination are needed to constantly be active in the profession
Don’t give up. Don’t disappear from social media. Keep on updating your Instagram and Facebook.
“They will be times when you will experience a lull in getting booked for modelling gigs,” said Siddiqah. “But the important thing is to stay relevant in the modelling field. For example, doing a photoshoot on your own time so as to build up your portfolio and making your social media accounts stand out to attract potential clients! You will never know who you can reach via Instagram these days!”
#7. Focus more on your personality because a model is nothing without a personality
“You can’t just be a pretty face if you have a bad personality,” Balqis said.
“At the end of the day, you are pretty but your attitude is bad, no one is going to want to work with you,” Siddiqah added. “It’s important to have a shining personality and to remain professional. Know your place as a model during a photoshoot because, people will always remember how you made them feel. How you performed will reflect in the final product – which is your photos.”
#8. Be open to constructive criticism
“Constructive criticism is good, as it makes you improve on yourself more,” said Siddiqah.
“We have this professional development for teachers in schools. One of the topics covered is about growth mindset, where we learn that whenever people start to shoot you down, you just need to take the positive side of things,” said Balqis.
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