When I had my first test shoot as a model, my initial thoughts were “Why am I here? I don’t deserve to be here” or “I’m not good enough for this.” My co-models were taller than me; they all looked comfortable in their skin, while I was there wallowing in my anxiety.
My friends were surprised that I became a model because they knew how much I disagreed with conventional beauty standards, with all the impossible demands they entail. For the longest time, there’s been a rigid and narrow concept of what is considered beautiful. I was never comfortable with the idea of conforming to them—especially those that verged on being toxic. But since more and more brands, media, and people have become more accepting of individuals of all different shapes, sizes and colors, I started to become unafraid of being my true self. Focusing on what made me different, welcoming what made me stand out.
I admit that there were times I was tempted to try to look more like a “model.” I thought about changing the way I dressed or maybe even putting on more makeup than I’m used to. However I could already imagine how that would be straying away from my personality—that I would just be uncomfortable pretending to be someone I’m not. Sure, those things might have made me look more like a model in the conventional sense—how society thinks models are—but I’d be doing myself a disservice.
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t let these unrealistic expectations get to me. I didn’t change a single thing about myself, I took ownership of who I am. I found what made me an individual, and highlighted those aspects of myself. And it actually turned out fine because I still got projects and reached a level of success and confidence I didn’t think was possible.
I tried to accept myself more and although it wasn’t easy in the beginning, the positive impact it has had made it worth the internal struggle. I had to let go of my self-doubts and embody #GandangWalangHiya. And the next time somebody reminds you of how different you are, take it as a compliment. Let them see how individuality is what we should pay attention to. Having a healthy dose of self-confidence is important, and it’s all about having the courage to stay true to yourself.