Jachin Manere and Adela-Mae Marshall are still in the running for Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 6. The two Pinay models competing in the reality show are definitely not camera-shy, with Jach having three years of modeling experience and Adela already landing TVCs. Another proud Pinay, Monika Sta. Maria from Cycle 3, has also been around to mentor them through the creative process.
Cosmopolitan recently got the chance to catch up with them and they shared snippets of a life that is not as glammed up as it seems. They spill that they went through awkward stages, were bullied for their looks, and at times, dealt with insecurities.
Jachin admits that she was bullied in school. "I was the tallest in my class, even among the boys!" she laughs. "I was also really thin, so they would call me things like, 'payatot' and 'nagtatago sa likod ng pencil.'"
Adela went through an awkward stage as well. "I was 18 when I started [modeling], and I felt that I was not yet fully developed at the time. Then you go into casting and you find 20 other girls who kind of look like you, and it is like a choice for who fits closest to the mold that the client wants."
Even Monika, who is a pro in the industry, says she wasn't spared from feelings of inadequacy. "In the modeling industry, they tend to expect so much from you. Different clients are looking for different looks—and for them, you may not be skinny enough, toned enough, or tall enough. You can never be perfect for everyone. Insecurities come naturally in this industry."
The best way to boost your self-esteem is to love yourself and accept who you are. Monika shares, "Whenever you have insecurities, you have to accept that it will always be there and that you need to cope with it. As long as you present the best version of you, there will be people who will love you for that. At the end of the day, doon ka sasaya instead of being somebody else for other people."
Being bullied for your looks is painful, but it can also be a catalyst for change. Monika adds, "It is hard to be okay with it immediately, and I tell people that it is okay not to be okay as long as you don't stay down all the time. If you are being bullied, understand why they are doing it. As long as you are not doing anything wrong and you learn to love yourself, and they are [still] not happy for you, problema na nila 'yon. Then, hopefully, when you overcome it, you can inspire other people in the process so it becomes a ripple of positivity."
Jachin adds, "Embrace yourself, embrace your flaws then show you can improve. Eventually, you will be grateful [for] your uniqueness, then it becomes empowering."
When young girls reach out to Adela on social media, saying that they are made fun of because they look a certain way, she has this reply: "First of all, if they are your friends, and they are treating you that way, then they are not your real friends. You should not seek validation from other people. If you are completely happy with how you look, it doesn't matter what anybody else says. It takes time to get there, and there are days when you look in the mirror and feel that you need to try harder. But then, you also don't have to be switched on all the time."
More Than Just A Pretty Face
There is a misconception that models are just human hangers that glide by on the runway or are canvases for the latest beauty products. These girls beg to differ. Monika explains, "I think the first thing that attracted me to it was that I was really awkward in high school and on my first experience on the runway, it was so inspiring because I got to be part of the vision of a designer. In the same way that people watch a play, the fashion show is where they can see a story unveil in front of their eyes. This is what I felt I was part of. It is an amazing feeling where a designer's vision becomes clothes, and the clothes come to life on the runway. It is an art for me."
People think that to be a model you just have to be beautiful, it is more than that, Jachin adds, "You are an extension of art, where you have to embody the clothes that you wear. You get to express yourself and there is an element of dance in it where you slow down your movements and portray a role that will make people feel a certain way."
With photo shoots, it is basically the same thing. Adela shares, "There is the concept of taking on a character with each shot, with a different photographer. It is easy to think you just show up at every shoot and do the same thing, which is [to] stand and pose. But there is an element of acting, and nowadays with social media, you are not just a face anymore. You are more than a girl in a magazine, you are a personality and more importantly, a role model."
For those who want to be the next top model, Monika prods, "Just go for it. Some people think I am not tall enough, not skinny enough, or not in the best shape. Just go for it because you never know. The ones who succeed in the industry are the ones who are most confident about themselves."