There was an incident earlier this year that was the start of a series of events which severely damaged my confidence in blogging and had me resorting to blogging about mainly beauty because I felt so discouraged to blog about anything else. This incident made me deeply unhappy and angry and over time it grew until eventually I was in a dark mood for a very long time. Why this happened? I put my all into my online life: what you see of me out in this vast World Wide Web is who I truly am in real life. I honestly cannot lie in real life. It eats away at me and being the type of person who feels guilty over throwing something inanimate away obviously lying would destroy me. So obviously why would I do it to myself? It is selfish, to assert that I am this pure person. I’m not, it’s not like I don’t lie but I don’t lie to the extent that it is ridiculous or will cause someone harm – more often it causes me harm. I don’t know how many times I have lied to myself that I don’t want that last piece of cake but secretly, deep down…
Rambling about my lack of purity but abundance of truthfulness aside, the incident affected me deeply. At the time I curled up and cried. I felt humiliated, bullied and controlled. I pathetically fought with myself, there was the part of me that was adamant that I wouldn’t be told what to do and that I certainly had rights and then there was the part of me that wanted to please everyone, make things right even if it meant I had to suffer because of it. I sacrificed my pride and it was a mistake, I should have never bowed down and been untrue to myself. So this is me coming out and saying I won’t ever be bullied anymore, never again.
I was a model from when I was 18 and I always hated it. Admittedly I did it for as long as I did because how many girls can get into the industry? Also, I loved the resulting photos from shoots, they were stories and I was lucky enough to be in them. For a long time I rode on the pleasure of getting photos in return for working as a model, I never really cared about the money. I worked hard, this is something I do no matter what. At 18 I was size 16 and as my first agent and mentor told me, ‘you should not be this size at this age’. She wasn’t telling me to become anorexic, she was telling me I needed to be healthy, which I wasn’t. For my size, the weight I was was not at all healthy – if you don’t believe me, for example I used to consume an entire packet of chocolate chip cookies for “breakfast” with milk. This used to happen regularly too. So I worked hard to become healthy and soon enough I became a much more suitable size for my height and age. I may not have liked modeling but if I was going to do it, I was certainly going to work hard and offer nothing but the best of myself to professionals I worked with.
There are different branches in modeling. I’m lucky I’m photogenic as it meant I could get photographic work but there were a few times when I first started modeling that I did promo work as well. The few times I did promo work I was so very fortunate to be protected by my agency: an agent would always ensure the models were treated right and that the company would not take advantage of us. Because, as a promo model, it is often misconstrued that promo girls are willing to do anything and everything when working because of their gregarious nature when on the job. When you do promo work, you have to be outgoing and overly friendly! You have to sell the client’s product and keep up a good personality so it reflects well onto them. Promo girls work double the amount a photographic model does – they have their bad days and yet they maintain a shining personality because they can’t let a sulk slip out in case a potential customer spots it. Promo girls wear the worst outfits: unflattering, over the top, embarrassing, too short, too tight, etc. and yet we do it because the company thinks this image is what will successfully sell their product.
Eventually after a few promo jobs I realized I simply didn’t have the knack for it: I’m not assertive enough to be a confident, likeable personality and when I got negative comments or hassle on the job it would always come home with me and affect me for a while. I was so protected by that agency back when I first started modeling and I was grateful when I told them I only wanted to stick with photographic work. They understood and they promoted me accordingly and got me the jobs I knew I would excel in. Photographic work is mentally exhausting like promo work, true, but the only audience you have is an imagined one opposed to one you have to interact with and first impressions count.
This is a very long prelude to what this post is truly about but I hope – those of you who are still with me – you understand why I gave you a bit of background so you can understand where I am coming from when I launch into the incident.
Upon arriving in Adelaide, I was actually excited about doing some modeling here. It was a fresh start and I was slowly gaining appreciation for modeling. It was mainly because I had finally become a free-lance model and I had control over what jobs I wanted to pursue, whom I worked with and the opportunity to work with professionals with whom I could share ideas with. After a while I thought the idea of doing promo work might not be a bad idea as it would at least give me a little money and it would give a new side to Suki, the model. So I joined an agency – albeit reluctantly. I stressed I was a photographic model but would still do a bit of promotional work. When I joined this agency I had almost 4 years of modeling experience and an extensive portfolio – they never asked to see my full portfolio or of my previous experience, only if I was free to do a job the next day. Still, I complied and did a few promotional jobs before I started to question what I was doing. It made me unhappy and at times I was scared of working, truthfully I dislike being around large crowds of people and this is what promotional work thrust me into. People make me nervous, a camera not so much. I became unhappier and unhappier and eventually lost interest in photographic work I was still securing for myself independently seeing as my agency wasn’t doing so.
I blogged about my modeling career from the start. It started with my first job, I was excited but frustrated with myself because I wasn’t perfect – that is, my make up wasn’t. I had tanned significantly (unfortunately a 5 minute walk in the sun is enough for my half Sri Lankan coloration to come out) and my foundation didn’t match my skin tone. That is what I blogged about. How excited I was to be working as a promo model after years and how my make up didn’t seem to suit me. The post had photos of me showing my make up; I was wearing a t-shirt with the product name that I was promoting on it.
Eventually as the promo work progressed, my posts (not that there were many) eventually resulted with one having a mini rant about what promo models go through and how people are inconsiderate of this (you can read this post over here). Gist of it anyway. And then there was this post where I was truly fed up of the negative comments I was getting while working and I voiced it out.
In all of my posts I have never:
- Named companies I promoted products for
- Given specifics of a job
So when I suddenly got a call from my agency saying that Campari (yes, I’m naming you now) had caught wind of my blog, I was confused. Until my agent launched into this tale of how they were upset by my posts because it painted promo work in a negative light and that it reflected badly on the company and that they wanted me to rectify the situation by deleting all of these posts and how upsetting it was blah the blah fuck blah.
Now when I think about it, obviously intimidation is the first way you gain results when you’re a tyrant and Campari certainly got it right with me because I’m the ultimate arse kisser, doormat, etc. Truly, I do anything to please anyone – or rather, I used to anyway. So there I was apologizing profusely but still angry inside that I had to delete something on a blog that was my own, delete something that was nothing but the truth, delete something that had no relation to Campari aside from that one make up post in which I was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Skyy Vodka’ on it and I was talking about how my foundation didn’t match my face.
Well bully me for that, I do think that’s unforgivable, mismatching foundation and skintone.
I did it all, I deleted the make up post and photos but I kept the posts where I shed light on promo work because those jobs I was complaining about weren’t even Campari jobs and I was confused as to why I would have to delete something not even related to them and my own true experience. It’s not even a secret what happens out there, how many times have you looked at promo girls and thought less of them even though they may have been respectable people after their shift?
And then there was stone cold silence and the obvious dismissal that was never said in words. I was cast out, because girls weren’t getting paid by Campari because of my blog. Now when I think about it I think it’s absurd that Campari would punish hard working girls based on blog posts that weren’t even about them, didn’t even shed negative light on them and did I say again these posts weren’t about them? It was an intimidation tactic, both to scare the agency I was with and myself and it certainly worked back then.
So I’m coming out today about this incident. It affected my blog, my modeling career and me on so many levels and I’m fed up of thinking I don’t have the right to voice out opinions and that I was wrong – because I wasn’t. There is no law that demands I do nothing but praise companies I happen to do a favor for. That’s right Campari, you should realize promo girls do you a favor by being treated so badly out there – most girls I have worked with are not whores, boyfriend stealers or dress like a slut daily. No, they – and myself – were often happier in jeans and a t-shirt once our shift was over. We loved to eat but would starve ourselves prior to a job because we had to fit into ridiculous outfits just to “look good” – we’d binge eat after a job. Some of us were in long-term relationships and happy with our partners and some of us even had children – these women worked as promo models to bring in the extra money. Almost all of us had no interest in the men who thought we would be easy, we almost always laughed hysterically about our experiences afterward, questioning how ignorant people could be. We did our jobs, we promoted.
I did my job. I promoted. And this was the thank you I got in return; I didn’t even have the courtesy of Campari contacting me directly. A cowardly company that was narcissistic doesn’t deserve me groveling for something I never did.
This is my opinion of you and I have the right to voice it. I will not be silenced. Sure I knew what I was getting into when I worked as a promo model but that didn’t mean I didn’t have the right to be treated respectfully and complain if I wasn’t.
This is my blog, my thoughts and opinions and this is my reminder and motivation that I will never again be silenced for being nothing but truthful. I never attack anyone and even you, Campari, I don’t want to attack but consider this my retaliation to what you did to me.