July 2018

Modeling gives me confidence

By: Yasmin Winther Simonsen
Projects Abroad Volunteer

The stories of models who suffer from depression and stress because of their jobs have become more and more common during the past years. The industry gets criticized and the models go public with their stories about how stressful and unfair the industry is. However, what if modeling can do something else? What if it can give you confidence?

Chihiro Kanemura is a 23-year-old from Japan and a model.

Growing up, Chihiro did not have much self-confidence. She did not believe that she was good enough the way she was, and as she got older she wanted to change that. Therefore, she decided to join the Miss Universe contest, hoping she would gain more self-confidence and start to believe in herself.

Miss Universe is an international beauty contest started in 1952. Today it has more than 190 countries participating. Their motto is "Confidentially beautiful" and that is exactly what Chihiro hoped to achieve when she first decided to audition: feeling beautiful and confident.

She auditioned into the audition not knowing what to expect and went out with a job as a model.

"When I went to audition for Miss Universe a person at the office asked me if I was interested in modeling. Then I started my job as a model," Chihiro Kanemura says. She is making it sound so easy.

Yet being a model is not just smiling at the camera and looking good on the runway. It is a difficult job. The industry is the most competitive when it comes to beauty and fashion, and you have to work hard to stay in it.

For Chihiro Kanemura, the worst thing about being a model is when you work hard to achieve something and it does not pay off, when you prepare and rehearse for an audition and you do not get the job. This puts pressure on Chihiro, because if she does not pass the audition, she has no job. However, she says that the reward of getting the job means more to her than the pressure when she does not get the job. "Of course it makes me a bit depressed when I do not get the job, but at the same time I just think, 'Thank you for giving me a chance to make an effort and working on improving myself.' I think the most important thing in life is how much you can grow as a person when you never stop believing in yourself. You should never stop making an effort."

For Chihiro Kanemura, modeling is much more than just a job. It gives her self-confidence. When asked what she likes the most about modeling, she has no doubt: "I love the runway. When I am walking I remember how hard I worked to get there. How much I prepared for it. Passing the audition, practicing my walk. I also love how the audience and everyone around me are cheering. I made an effort to accomplish something and it is rewarded when I walk on the runway."

When we think of models, adjectives like beautiful, perfect, and glamorous often cross our mind. We associate models with being on front covers, walking on the runway, looking good all the time, travelling, etc. Even though this may be what we see, it is only a small part of modeling.

When asked if what we see and what actually happens match, Chihiro Kanemura says, "I do not look beautiful and perfect all the time, like I do in my pictures. Everything is about branding. I post perfect pictures on Instagram to brand myself and make a good name for myself. However, there is always a story behind the photo and nothing is ever the same behind the camera. No one is perfect all the time."

This is also the message she wants to pass on to young girls who compare themselves with models and struggle with their self-esteem and self-confidence. "There are many kinds of flowers. They do not all look the same but they are all beautiful in their own way. You should never compare yourself with others, because you will never be exactly like them. The most important thing is to grow your own self-confidence and believe in yourself. Beauty is not only on the outside, the most important beauty is internal. So just love yourself. Everyone is beautiful in their own way."

Because of a past filled with low self-esteem and no self-confidence, it is very important for Chihiro to teach young girls about confidence and self-esteem.

Chihiro is currently volunteering for a group of girls with difficult backgrounds. Here much of her time is teaching the girls how to gain more self-confidence. She hosts a passion show to show the girls that it is okay to dream big and believe in oneself. "A fashion show is about showing the clothes you are wearing. The passion show is about showing the girl's passions and dreams."

For Chihiro it is important to help the girls create a future for themselves and make them see that they can do whatever they dream of. "In their situation, it is hard to dream of a bright future. And many people will tell them that they cannot do what they want. I want to be the person who tells them, that they can do whatever they dream of."

In the passion show the girls have to do a catwalk and different poses that shows their dreams and passions.

By doing a dance class before the show, Chihiro makes sure that the girls are confident and believe in themselves before doing their catwalk. The girls each represent confidence in their own ways. Whether they walk in a serious or a silly manner, they all walk with confidence, which is what the passion show is all about.

"I want to be there and encourage the girls forever, but that is not possible. However, if I can give them confidence now, they will continue believing in themselves and their dreams. The passion show is the gift that will continue forever."

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