Confessions of a First-time Model

Article by: Arielle Choy / Photos by: Hannah Beltran and Paolo Pareno / Graphics by: Katrina Tan

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a fashion model – well, either that or a surgeon. But since I wasn’t really someone who particularly enjoyed science (or studying, for that matter), I was more or less convinced that I would pursue modelling. During my free time, I would go over my mother’s old fashion magazines and try to copy the fashion models’ poses. Much to my mother’s dismay, I would even cut out the pictures I liked and stick them in my notebook for future reference.

In my early teenage years, my favorite show was America’s Next Top Model. I remember that I would eagerly await each new episode every Sunday evening, and even catch the reruns during the weekdays. Back then, there was really no doubt in my mind that I was going to be a famous supermodel in the future.

However, when I entered high school, something changed. I started feeling insecure about myself and the way I looked. I started noticing little things about my body – things that I viewed as imperfections. I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t really cut out for modeling since I didn’t consider my body “perfect” or model-worthy. I no longer enjoyed watching modeling shows because instead of making me feel happy like they did before, I just felt frustrated because I knew that my body would never be as flawless as those girls’.

Because of those dark thoughts, I somehow convinced myself that I would never make it as a model. I felt that my modeling aspirations had come to an end. I thought that I would never get to live out my modeling dreams… or so I thought.

It took me a few years to finally accept and gain confidence in my body; but even so, I still wasn’t 100% confident about my looks.

So, imagine my great surprise when I found myself agreeing to model for When In Manila’s shoot.

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The shirt I was going to model came from When In Manila’s new line of shirts from the be [anything] collection. Not only are all the shirts from the line eye-catching and visually pleasing, but proceeds from sales will also be used as to raise funds for the WIM Love Foundation.

By purchasing a shirt, you will not just support the foundation, but also its advocacies that include mental health awareness, animal welfare, and environment protection, among others. 

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At the beginning of the shoot, I was really nervous. I started to feel all of my old insecurities coming back. However, after seeing my friends having fun getting their pictures taken, I decided to ignore those thoughts. After making the conscious choice to push all of my self-doubt away, my confidence returned stronger than ever. I let go of my insecurities and focused instead on having a great time while living out my modeling dreams for the first time.

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By the time the shoot ended, I had forgotten all of my previous apprehensions. Something about standing in front of a camera and embracing all of my so-called “imperfections” was really empowering. Not only did I learn something about self-acceptance, I also fulfilled one of my biggest childhood dreams. Just like the “Be Brave” design on the shirt I wore, sometimes all you need is a little strength and bravery to let your awesomeness shine through.  

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You can learn more about WIM Love Foundation’s new shirt collection here.