[All images in this post are courtesy @vikk_rant.]

Sometime last year, I started working as a model. It took me a really long time to actually accept that as a title. I never felt like a model. I thought:

I sure as hell don’t look like a model.

Even writing it out now is making me a little uncomfortable.

[Read Related: ‘Beauty Inside is Happiness Outside’: A Poem]

south asian model

For many years, there’s been a certain idea of what a model is. When I first started modeling, I was really self-conscious. I’m 5’4” and definitely not a size 0. I felt this inherent pressure to look a certain way. There was an unspoken rule that models are supposed to be thin, or that if you’re a guy, you have to have a six-pack. For many people who are working in this industry, it causes a lot of unhealthy habits to try and achieve that look.

south asian model

When the people we’re seeing in ads and commercials are pressured to look a certain way, it has an impact on the entire society. I remember when I was younger, seeing how thin all the models looked and how I wanted to be like that. I always wanted to be in front of the camera, but I thought the body I was in wasn’t good enough. I remember skipping meals and restricting my eating in the hopes that I would be thin enough to do that one day.

south asian model

Let’s put ads and commercials aside for one second and think about what we grew up watching in Bollywood: size 0 actresses gracing the silver screen; “fair and lovely” South Asian models making it seem like being skinny and having a milk-white complexion were the only two ways to succeed in this industry—even life.

south asian model

[Read Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming Beautiful and Loving Yourself]

south asian model

I want to break the notion—right here, right now.

A model is not just a woman who is thin with a pretty face; or, a man with lots of muscles and a good jawline. There is no one universal image of beauty. Everybody is beautiful. Each day, the #BodyPositiveMovement is growing. It’s time that we start having real people reflected in our campaigns. It’s amazing to see companies like American Eagle/Aerie, ASOS and Old Navy stepping up and using people of all shapes and sizes in their campaigns. Larger brands take notice!

south asian model

My name is Jessie. I’m a South Asian model. And, this model eats a lot.

I still have my days where I feel the pressure to look a certain way, but I’m learning to love the skin I’m in.

I am beautiful and so are you.

south asian model


Model: Jessie Brar | Jewelry: Chamak Jewels | Makeup: Elysian Allure | Clothes: Dee Kapadia | Venue: Mantra

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Jessie Brar
Chocolate Lover – Bollywood Dancer – Bhangra Enthusiast – Mental Health Advocate. Jessie Brar studied psychology at Queen’s University and now works in youth mental health promotion with Jack.org in Toronto, Canada. Her spare time is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health through The Mental Health Spotlight (@TheMHSpotlight), a project dedicated to erasing stigma around mental health and mental illness in South Asian communities through the power of storytelling. In her downtime, she can be found cuddled up watching/reading Harry Potter, eating Reese’s Cups, or dancing to Bollywood and Bhangra tunes in front of a mirror. Check out more of her work at https://jessiebrar94.wixsite.com/mhspotlight.