The model and Odissi dancer shares about her new-found fame post Milan Fashion Week and why representation matters.
Dress by Afiq M.


I have always dreamt of expanding my career to Europe—ever since I started modelling. So when I got the opportunity to work the Milan Fashion Week circuit last year, it was nothing short of a dream come true. I had been working towards it but it had taken me a while since it is such a big market and I needed an agency to get me there. It’s also quite costly to be there, especially for a model who was working independently and I hadn’t been working much outside of churning out social media content due to the pandemic. I’m not normally dependent on my parents but they really helped me with the expenses there.

But it all paid off because the news just blew up and it felt like everyone was talking about it. I didn’t expect that. I received so many interview requests when I was there and it carried on well after that trip. When I came back, I had lots of previous clients reaching out and new ones approaching me. I had never done commercial work before but all of a sudden I found myself doing quite a number of commercials—that market just opened up to me. I would say that my modelling stint in Milan brought new opportunities for me. It’s also a testament to the power of social media in this day and age. 

I used to be quite blasé when it comes to social media. I didn’t really pay attention to what I posted on these apps and nobody really cared about it but now I have to somewhat quality control the things that I share. I’m still learning the ropes because some clients, especially those who want me to do social media postings or product shoots by myself, really look into the kind of content that I am providing my followers. I’m not super advanced like some but I’m catching up with all this new-generation stuff. More importantly, I always make sure that I stay true to myself throughout the process.

I am very transparent on social media. I try to be candid about what’s happening in my life as a model, showing my followers that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. For instance, when I learned about the reality of modelling in Milan, that the competition there was so fierce, it took a toll on me. Sometimes it’s easy for you to say that you’re confident in yourself but then you see 200 other models in front of you and you can’t stop comparing yourself to them. You would start questioning whether or not you would get the job. I never felt like I was good enough when I went for casting and I would feel so broken afterwards.

But modelling is more than just being famous and finding fame. I want to educate people about the industry, especially those who look like me. There are a lot of Indian girls and boys out there who do not feel comfortable in their skin. Some of them are being bullied for what they look like. I just want to let them know that they are not alone. Whenever I share my personal story, a lot of these young people message me and tell me what they’re going through at their school and workplace. So I want to make sure that I’m there for them even though I can’t always reply to everyone. That is how I do things.


This article was first published in the print edition of Grazia Malaysia March 2023.