Lessons Learned From Sheena Liam (AsNTM2 Winner)
To set the record straight, I AM NOT A FAN OF SHEENA. In fact, I was and still rooting, with a very heavy heart, for our two Pinay representatives for Asia’s Next Top Model 2, Jodily and Katarina.
Filipinos, especially gays, are very fond of pageants and everything glamorous like modeling. It is an arena that most of us dreamt of gracing in and would defy every impossibilities…in a dream. Just recently, we know for sure that plenty of bekis’ hearts were torn by the “questionable” victory of Malaysia’s Sheena Liam in AsNTM2. I am one of them, too.
If Malaysians mourn for the tragedy faced by the MH370, Filipinos bemoans for the two Filipinas fate in AsNTM2. The title seems so reachable having 2 Pinays fought for the title compared to 1 Malaysian. We have the fiery exotic morena with the power of levitation in photos, Jodily Pendre, and the unquestionable classic beauty that we never thought would make it to the finals, Katarina Rodriguez.
Maybe it was just the bias that I felt being a Filipino that a Filipino must also win. But logic would also tell me that being an avid fan of AsNTM2, I know that Jodily Pendre executed more than exceptional poses and catwalk skills to earn the title. But it was Sheena who won. The blonde-locked Chinese Malaysian who, in fairness with statuesque-but-not-incomparable-with-the-2-Pinay’s-looks, suddenly pose for fame.
Filipinos, majority of them I must say, aired their lamentations about it. I also feel the same way. But suddenly I read an article “Asia’s Next Top Model champ Sheena Liam resists calls for plastic surgery to look pan-Asian.” It changed my mind suddenly. This article gave me another perspective of Sheena Liam as I paralleled her interview with Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts.” And suddenly, I admire this girl already.
Here are some of the excerpts of her interview:
“The industry in Malaysia tends to prefer the Caucasian or Pan-Asian look. I’ve been pressured to get plastic surgery done to look, you know, more beautiful.
“A lot of people get things done, bigger eyes, higher nose bridges. It was never my goal to be more beautiful. It’s my goal to be more myself.”
“If I were to be famous for being a model, I would want people to like me for the way I look.”
“I think as a top model, you need to stand out and the blonde hair really helps me. Some people like it, some people really hate the hair. What matters is that it makes me memorable.”
“You have no idea how upset I was watching the first season of Asia’s Next Top Model. The first season turned out to such a huge success and the girls were living my dream. I knew I had to get into the second season of the show. I don’t think it was just my hair that got me in. There were so many blonde models in the casting room. I had to show the casting producers that I really wanted this.”
“I think besides the hair making such a huge statement, I always stuck to what I wanted. My mum was pressuring me to get a job. I told her to please believe in me and give me one year.”
“I gave up going to my graduating ceremony for this competition. My mum was telling me not to miss it as it’s her biggest dream to see my graduate. But when she watches the finale she will see something better than that.”
Deep inside, I know I hated Sheena and she doesn’t deserve the title. But a voice within was kind of giving off slow claps for this young lady. One comment on the finals to Sheena was that “she is the face of modern Asia.” I can’t agree with that. But definitely, I can say that with her very strong will to succeed, despite breaking her mother’s heart by not attending the graduation rites, she is a role model of not just a modern Asian but modern citizens of the world who would like to eachieve one’s dream. She is the kind of role model that the youth must look up to. A role model who we must follow the footsteps in achieving our goals.
We Filipinos have been so nationalistic in such a wrong way that we are seen so arrogant by others by squirting dirt to their flags instead of raising ours higher. I am guilty of it. We have been so discriminating with some candidates in our national pageants whom are intrigued to have undergone plastic surgery but also discriminate those who don’t and we think should do so. Indeed, it’s the soul that needs a surgery. I am guilty of it. I may not see Sheena as the right bearer of the title Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 2 but one thing is for sure, she gave me lessons that only a role model can give that can deliver “Best Characteristic” instead of “Best Photo.” No wonder, she made if far until no one’s to be told “you’re still in the running towards Asia’s Next Top Model.”
Congratulations Sheena and to Jodilly and Katarina: you made us all proud!
Lessons Learned From Sheena Liam (AsNTM2 Winner)
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