The modeling arena sees fierce competition and is strictly for those who have a passion for fashion. For 24-year-old Saima Azhar, entering this industry was a rather spur of the moment decision; a close friend of hers sent her Facebook pictures to Frieha Altaf, for the Veet Miss Super Model Contest last year. Azhar talks about her journey in the competition, the challenges she faced and the underlying issues in the fashion world.
“I never thought I would be a model one day or even considered it as an option, but lady luck just smiled upon me,” says Azhar, who was doing her Masters in Physiology before she entered the competition. In the realm of modeling, having a size zero figure is essential, whereas Azhar, at that time, weighed 62kgs. Dieting, exercising and running, are the three elements that helped her lose weight. “I was addicted to running and for eight months, I would just run in my free time to make sure I was losing weight.” She now weighs 47kgs.
With her weight issue resolved, Azhar still feels that her height, at five feet six inches, has served as another hindrance in her journey as a model. She was able to be a part of various fashion events such as Bridal Couture Week, but was never approached by the Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) committee. “I don’t specifically know why I wasn’t selected in 2012 for FPW4, but I assume it was because of my height,” she says. “Therefore, I decided to go to the event, hang around and watch how models walk the ramp instead.” Indeed, the model looked ravishing as she dressed to the nines in gorgeous dresses and applauded the models as she sat in the front row.
Speaking about the Veet Miss Super Model Contest, Azhar says she made it to the top 50 and was also shortlisted in the top 10 through sheer luck. But unfortunately, Frieha wasn’t impressed and told her she was “too fat, too over-confident and zero out of 10.” Although Azhar had lost all hope, Syed Rizwanullah, a fashion designer and a jury member in the contest, felt otherwise. He convinced Frieha to keep her in the competition as he felt “she will provide some masala to the show.” Azhar won the title of Miss Photogenic 2011 and proved Rizwanullah right.
Issues in the industry
Without any reluctance, Azhar shares the underlying issues in the modeling industry: drug abuse, jealousy amongst models, unprofessional attitudes and favouristism.
“I believe everything depends on you — if you are willing to be a part of it, then you will be,” she says, in regard to the issue of drug abuse. “Who doesn’t smoke charas [hashish]? However, I refrain from using it.” She feels the concept of survival of the fittest applies to this world as well. “It’s not all about beauty on the ramp; it is, to an extent, but you should also have the brain to play the game [and understand the politics] to save your image in front of people.”
She feels jealousy amongst colleagues is also a factor which can result in an unhappy environment. “The industry is filled with jealous and insecure people who sit and back bite about others,” she continues. “And if you have strong public relations skills, you easily get the chance to open a fashion show and even close the finale.”
“There is a lot of competition in this field but I am not that interested; you need to make your own position and not try to take anyone else’s,” she adds. At the end of the day, she enjoys her new-found profession and plans to continue. “It’s a euphoric moment when you hit the ramp. You forget the audience and it feels really good to be appreciated.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.