With many of us stuck in various levels of lockdown, we’re all looking for something fun and fabulous to free our minds, which is why we are super excited to see the sixth season of SupermodelMe Revolution back on our screens.
The great thing about this Asia-based show is the focus on diverse models: this season has 12 models from Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. According to the organisers, this season will also focus on female empowerment, offering a fresh take on the modelling industry and looking at what it means to a modern model.
I would like to see us move away from traditional beauty standards towards more acceptance of individuality and celebration of uniqueness
Thai supermodel and actress Cindy Bishop knows a lot about what it means to be a modern model. Starting as a model in the 90s at only the age of 13, Bishop has seen everything, both good and bad, in her career. These days, however, she’s excited that the modelling industry is more inclusive and transparent, and she’s excited to mentor the next generation.
“I’m excited to see more diversity in models not just of colour, race but also body size and gender identity in the industry as a whole. But I feel it’s taken the fashion industry a long time to get here, and we have a lot longer to go in terms of being truly diverse and inclusive,” says Bishop. “I would like to see us move away from traditional beauty standards towards more acceptance of individuality and celebration of uniqueness.”
While the current modelling industry has improved in some ways, Bishop acknowledges that it wasn’t always easy.
“I started modelling in the 90s at age 13, and it was much harsher in terms of models having to fit into a certain mould in order to make it. As a teenager, being told my hips were too wide and that I needed to lose weight to walk a certain show or land a campaign led to me having low self-esteem, body image issues and extreme self-criticism,” explains Bishop bluntly.
“There have been a few times where I felt pressured to do something I wasn’t comfortable doing and wished I had the courage at the time to stand up for myself. I hope the new models understand that nothing is worth more than your dignity and self-respect and that you have every right to speak up if ever you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.”
Bishop's thoughtful consideration belies the boring and outdated generalisation that ‘models are stupid’, one that she is happy to disabuse us of.
“That’s another misconception that seems to be a popular opinion. There is an added layer of pressure to have to prove you are more than just a pretty face and to be taken seriously,” Bishop points out. “Judging someone’s level of intelligence based on their job requirements - which in this case features heavily on physical appearance - is a stereotypical bias."
“Most professional models are disciplined, goal-driven, well-spoken and work hard to manage their careers and even multiple other businesses. Especially in today’s age of social media, a model’s career is 360, where personal branding, marketing and negotiation is crucial to becoming successful," she adds.
“There are many examples of models who have proven themselves to be worthy role models beyond beauty, and into business, finance thought leadership and advocacy.”
With her years of experience, Bishop knows the industry is better now, and she has high hopes for the young models she’s working with on SupermodelMe Revolution.
“After getting to know them and having the opportunity to mentor them, I am so excited to see where they go from here. This show is just a stepping stone towards their extremely bright futures,” she says.
“Of course, there can only be one winner, but the experience of being on this production, learning from industry leaders, and overcoming their own personal fears, is what all the girls will be able to take away with them.”
SupermodelMe Revolution will air on Monday, 11 October 2021 at 7:55pm (SGT) on AXN Asia across 10 weekly episodes. For more information, visit www.supermodelme.tv.