Not all models are statuesque and fair-skinned
They do not fit the mould of the statuesque and fair-skinned model, but these freelance models and others like them have made it
As an awkward teenager who had stage fright, Ms Jaslyn Wong dreamt of being a supermodel.
But there weren't many things going for her.
She says: "I always wanted to be on the runway... I mean, most girls do right?
"The thing is, most models who make it on that kind of stage are at least 1.7m tall.
"I'm only 1.65m. That's why I thought I couldn't do those kind of shows.".
Ms Wong did get the shows after all - everything from fashion runways to even being a hair model at 18 when she first started out.
And she is still hot property after turning 36.
Those in the industry say there are a lot more opportunities now for models who don't fit the mould of the statuesque, fair-skinned beauty.
The rise of online shops have also created a demand for the girl-next-door look.
Ms Wong started her full-time career at 18 when a salon cast her to be a hair model.
She then moved into doing freelance fashion and lingerie photo shoots for photographers building their portfolios.
In 2001, she became pregnant at 22 and her modelling career was seemingly over.
But at 31, she made a comeback doing shoots for photographers building their portfolios before Mr Jeffrey Chung, owner of Jeffrey Chung Models Singapore, signed her about three years ago.
Now, the mother of two juggles modelling and a day job as a marketing executive. The modelling jobs earn her at least $1,500 extra monthly.
While it can be tiring - she works from 9am to 5.30pm and her shoots in the evenings can last four hours - Ms Wong wants to continue taking modelling assignments.
"Now I get jobs at nightclubs like Club 5, Club Mansion. Those shows are usually product launches for online stores.
"I did one recently. It was a lingerie show for online store beau2.com," she adds. beau2 sells lingerie of different themes.
"Even with the kind of shows I do, my parents and siblings continually encourage me and give me their support to pursue my dreams," she says.
Her family says that the best thing to come out of her modelling career is the person she has become.
"They always remind me that they're proud of the confident person my modelling career has made me."
At 36, Ms Wong does not think her age would be a hindrance.
"As long as I get requests, why should I give up modelling? It makes me happy and I don't plan on stopping any time soon".
And she has also fulfilled her dream of becoming a runway model.
"I was engaged by Chan Brothers to model at the Everyday Holidays Travel Fair in February.
"I was chosen to present leather wear for some Turkish clients to show people what they can use on their holidays," she says.
"I always wanted to be on the runway... I mean, most girls do right? The thing is, most models who make it on that kind of stage are at least 1.7m tall. I'm only 1.65m."
- Ms Jaslyn Wong
She can memorise scripts in 3 languages
ASSESTS: Mr Chung says Ms Rajendran’s selling points are her 1.76m height, ample chest and that she is photogenic. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY CHUNG
She is hardworking, 1.76m-tall and busty, but Ms Manju Rajendran couldn't land many jobs when she started out in her early 20s.
But she didn't give up even as she inched into her 30s, usually a difficult age for aspiring models.
Ms Rajendran, now 37, was working as a hostess to entertain guests at a magazine event when she was spotted by the director of an Italian lighting company.
"He asked me if I was interested in being the model for the company - for their brochures and their invites for their events.
"I agreed and it turned out to be a great decision. There was one event I did for the company where I modelled for the invites, hosted and helped organise it," she says.
That one assignment, which subsequently saw her spend a lot of time travelling to and from Italy, earned her $10,000.
Ms Rajendran, a model, is also represented by Mr Chung's agency.
Mr Chung says of Ms Rajendran's draw with international clients: "While it is rare to see Indian models make it overseas, her selling points are her height, her 36F breasts and the fact that she is photogenic."
Ms Rajendran would earn an average of $6,000 monthly when she travelled to China, Hong Kong, Germany and Italy, for both modelling and hosting jobs.
On those trips, she showed her other talent of being able to memorise scripts in Cantonese, Chinese and Italian.
Mr Chung, who used to represent Ms Rajendran full-time, says: "When I first took her to Hong Kong in 2003 to do a hosting job, she had just started her career in the industry.
"She spent the entire night in her hotel room just to memorise and practise her script till the wee hours of the morning."
He says it is her work attitude that attracts his international clientele.
"She has no problem wearing all types of outfits for her performance, including the sexiest lingerie and swimwear, not to mention the usual bridal and casual wear that most models stick to," he says.
Now, Ms Rajendran says she is letting her modelling career take a back seat as she is more picky with job offers.
"Now, I focus on hosting jobs and training new models on how to walk, sit and groom themselves.
"I had to do this to tone down my hectic schedule. It is because I travelled so much that I now suffer from a sleeping disorder," she says.
"That's why I decided to stop modelling full-time and really pick the jobs I do," she adds.
The models she teaches are part of a class Mr Chung organises.
She says: "I have worked really hard to be where I am. My motto was always, 'Never give up'."
"She has no problem wearing all types of outfits for her performance, including the sexiest lingerie and swimwear."
- Modelling agency owner Jeffrey Chung
The girl-next-door look is in
Not every country is big on that all-legs Amazonian woman.
A recent Daily Mail article had 18 designers from 18 different countries amend an image of a woman in her underwear to reflect the ideal body in their countries.
A designer in China had the model's image changed so her weight was an estimated 45.8kg. She was also only 1.62m tall.
According to the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator on the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) website, the amendment gives the girl a 17.5 measurement on the BMI scale, which means she's underweight and at "risk of nutritional deficiency diseases and osteoporosis".
But it's not just cultural differences that dictate what kind of models are hot.
The girl-next-door look is big with online stores.
Ms Sharlene Lim, 33, says the combination of blogshops, online shopping and a wired generation has increased the demand for such models.
As the events director of Lemon 8, an event consultancy, Ms Lim hires freelance models for her events and photo shoots.
CARRY OFF OUTFIT
"About 10 years ago or so, you wouldn't come across all these blogshop-type models that look like the 'average girl'.
"Personally, I would go for the 'not-so-pretty' girls who can carry off the outfit in pictorials. There is always Photoshop if it needs to be 'improved'," she says.
Adobe Photoshop is the predominant photo editing and manipulation software.
Ms Lim adds: "These models are more relatable and can pull off these items more effectively than say a 'runway' model, not forgetting they are cheaper (compared to elite agency signed-models) to engage.
"So it's a win-win for the merchants and the models."
Mr Alfie Leong, a designer for the clothing label A.W.O.L, says the industry is evolving and looking for more mainstream girls who aren't picture-perfect.
He says: "It looks like people are hiring regular girls to make whatever they are trying to promote more relatable to the masses. So I am not surprised that these less-than-perfect models are making tonnes of money for filling in the gaps."
"It looks like people are hiring regular girls to make whatever they are trying to promote more relatable to the masses. So, I am not surprised that these less than perfect models are making tonnes of money for filling in the gaps."
- A.W.O.L. designer Alfie Leong