I’ve always wanted to be a fashion model, but contrary to what is expected of male models, I want to catwalk in stilettos and be identified as a female model. I know I can do it better than most female models out there. Most times, whenever I am in my private moments, I dress up in drag and vogue, taking photo shots with the phone camera of my best friend.
I hear of model castings in Lagos and I can’t go to those, because I realize I can’t go there in the skin I prefer. I can’t identify as I want to. I can’t be the (male) model who wants to strut his stuff in high-heeled shoes.
Even though I have booked a few jobs as a male model, this is not my dream. My dream is to be on the runway, and instead of bouncing along, I want to strut, to sashay, to catwalk in heels.
My mother is a fashion designer, and I am the first and favorite child. When I was five, she got me a plastic doll; I can remember the doll was in a pink leather jacket and pink hat, and it was my favorite birthday gift ever. I would get pieces from the clothes my mother was making for her customers, and turn them into dresses for my doll. Most of my childhood, the friends I had were girls, and these girls would love the doll and the clothes I made for her, and they’d want me to make dresses for their dolls too, which I did. As I got older, I began wanting to be like my doll, to get dressed up in those beautiful clothes. I wanted my body to take on the curvy shape of my doll so I could feel good in the clothes I wanted to wear. I would sneak into my mother’s room, and wear her dresses and jewelries. And it was beautiful; I was beautiful.
When my mother did a fashion catalogue for her clothing business and a photographer came around and was flashing his camera at my beautiful mother, I sat and watched and wished she could see just how beautiful I too could be in that dress. I wished I could tell her that I’d worn the dress and that I loved it.
Then my parents separated, and my mother left me and my younger brother with my father. Life became tougher as the fashion world that was my mother left.
Then I got to secondary school and had a group of girlfriends, and we were exposed to social media and magazines. And as we thumbed through the style sections, I would tell them, these girls, that I would love to be a fashion model, like the women in those pages, and they would laugh at me.
There was so much I did when I was alone, in front of the mirror, and I was feeling bad that I couldn’t show them off to anyone but myself. Until I met a girl when I was in the university; her name was Rebecca, and she quickly became my best friend. She would put makeup on my face, let me wear her dresses and walk about in her stilettos, and we would take pictures for the ‘gram on her iPhone.
It was fun and I cherished those moments.
The time soon came when I went for my first model casting call. The link happened through my ex model-boyfriend, and I was picked from the casting call. We started catwalk classes, and I was in my element, even though the lectures that taught us guys how to walk wasn’t the tutorial I wanted. I didn’t want to walk like I was being taught. I wanted to walk in hells, to strike a different pose, to wear the long, flowing costumes that flattered the figure I imagined I had for my photo sessions.
Then I stopped modeling for a while, even though I still had my private sessions with Rebecca, taking those pictures that allowed me to express myself the way I wanted to, not the way I was expected to.
I love modeling. I want my dream to be a model to be that in my true self, to express myself and be celebrated without the constraints of my gender. I mean, does gender really have to matter? As long as I can sell myself as an ambassador of the clothes, as long as I can sell the designer’s creations on the runway, shouldn’t that be all that matters?
I have no given up on this dream. I am hungrily anticipating an opportunity to express myself in this way. I see other people like me on Youtube videos, on TV shows, on music videos and so on, and I envy them their freedom to be who they are. And I hold on to the hope that someday, I will be there, able to flaunt the beauty that is me in a place where the world can see. The road will most likely not be easy for me, but being anything other than that will most likely destroy me.
Written by Fahd