Senior and Plus Sized Models in demand
They don’t have stick-thin bodies, or legs that go on for miles.
They are people you see on the street everyday, and yet their faces are in demand when it comes to advertisements and commercials.
Melissa Tanfinds out more about the plus-size and senior modeling industries here in Singapore.
In an industry known for thin and slim, some might say that 23 year old Clara Su sticks out like a sore thumb.
Clara is a plus-size model.
She is probably bigger that the average Singaporean woman, but she’s done a commercial for an OTO fitness product, and has been for countless casting sessions.
Clara was scouted by her agency imodels International some five years ago.
"I was shopping with my friends, then they approached me. They explained that there is a category and I’ll fit into that... plus-sized modeling. "
"All the models you see are all skinny and very nice fit. So it’s actually a surprise, but after an explanation and all then I decided to try it out and I saw this industry in Singapore. "
Clara has grown to accept and embrace her size.
"Like what I always tell people, you know, I’m just like them, it’s the same. I just have extra assets, more than them. These are very expensive assets which the clients I’ve been to, they actually look at me for this kind of personality and size."
And to those who are bigger sized like her, she has this to say.
"I will just tell them, really confidence is the key. Because you are really who you think you are. If you think you are pretty, just look in the mirror and say you are pretty pretty. You’ll become pretty even though you’re not. I mean, everybody’s pretty also lah. "
With popular TV shows like America’s Next Top Model now featuring Plus- sized models, more exposure has been given to this industry.
Designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano have both used plus-sized models in their fashion shows.
iModels booker Bonita Ma says they are always on the lookout for new plus sized models.
"Definitely market is smaller, but when they have a demand they’re really looking for girls like Clara, not just for the size, but also the personality whether they can deliver what they actually want. Then again, when they need it, we’ll have to go headhunt, look for the right faces. It all depends, if they want a character, it’s more on the character than the beauty itself. "
But Calvin Cheng, president of the Association of Modelling Industry Professionals says that the plus-sized modeling industry in Singapore has not quite taken off yet."And I think one of these reasons is that in the west, especially in the US
But another area of specialty modeling that we see in Singapore - Senior Modeling - seems to be taking off quite well -
Perhaps because of our aging population, suggests Samantha Ho, booker at Create Talents.
"We’re always trying to get more. Because as the population ages, we actually forsee a lot more ads having to include senior models. Recently, there are shopping mall ads, a few lifestyle ads, we actually have requirements from the advertising agencies, requesting for senior models."
They scout their talents off the Singapore streets, which was how Samantha found 56 year old Sally Poh.
This veteran of beautiful mom contests and other pageants has graced the pages of countless print ads.
The mother of three explained that modeling even got her through a bout of depression.
"When my 3rd child was 5 years old, I found there was something wrong. His speech was slow. Then we discovered that his hearing ability was only 30 percent. I couldn’t accept it, worried a lot, and even got a bit depressed. The doctor told me to go out and do something that I enjoy, and not stay at home and worry. SO with all the encouragement, I signed up for small roles to play on TV."
After that, her family encouraged her to take part in several beauty contests which she did, and she won.
She’s never looked back since.
"I feel so proud of myself. The best one was the Ministry of Manpower advertisement, which was on a bus, cos it was so big! When I stand next to it, and the picture is so huge, I just feel so good."
Another senior model is Doris Poon, who has been in ads for DBS and Bayer.
She stumbled into the job, quite by accident, when she brought her grandson to a child modeling photo shoot.
She said she’s especially happy when she knows that a job is well done, when her friends and family are proud of her.
"In anything, there’s a demand for certain people and certain category of people. So there’s no challenge. For my age there’s no challenge. For the young, they always fight for fame and all that, I don’t need that. So when the need arise, I join them."
One of Doris’ strong points, is that she is fluent in both English and Mandarin, says her agency.
"Sometimes, especially for seniors, it’ll be good if they’re bilingual, like Doris is very bilingual, so when they go down for corporate videos and they need English speaking, it’s a very strong point. "
For those like Doris and Sally whose modeling career took off post-50, modeling has added even more to their wealth of experience.
"I’ve learnt how to post in front of cameras, look more natural, do mouth exercises so I can smile more naturally, my image also changed, not so ‘auntie’ anymore. "
"Sometimes when I see commercials on TV, people give me comments, then I’ll tell them, it’s not easy to shoot a commercial like that. We just tell them it’s not easy, it’s a difficult job."
So while some may feel that specialty modeling has a long way to go here in Singapore, it’s an industry that truly shows the beauty in the ordinary.
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