#ModelWithAPurpose: Yes, I'm only 5"2

My audience noticed that I have been into modeling lately. Every Sunday, you would see in my Instagram stories that I am in a photoshoot. Every week I hop from one agency to another to get a VTR. I walk for local designers even if, at the moment, I don't get paid. I am an amateur in the field. Some appreciate it while others raise their eyebrows. Guess what: I'm not ditching it whatever people think, because there is a meaningful reason why I do this.

photo by Tyke King, dress by Geoffrey Lee

Something that is not a secret to my friends is that I have always wanted to be a model even if I know I am below industry standards. And this year, as part of my road to happiness, I promised to myself that I will start fulfilling ALL my dreams no matter the cost, no matter the result; at least, I try. But out all the things that I could dream of, why modeling? Why take the path with a seemingly blurry horizon? And why do I have to pursue it alongside being a fashion designer? Simple: it's because I want to. It's because I believe I can.

photo by Cherry Dichoso of Visual Creatives

I think this dream started when I was booed for winning in a school pageant when I was on my sixth grade. Right when my name was called, the theater was filled with silence and I would hear people say "Why her? She's not pretty". I admit, I wasn't really attractive during my younger years. In fact I was teased and bullied for having imperfect teeth, big belly and a wide forehead. People would also point out that my head is not proportional to my body, and that my face is too wide.

Behold, a photo of me from the past:


Aside from being called "unattractive", all my heartbreaks, in love, in lost competitions, in failures, would lead me to ask myself "what's wrong with me?". I would try to figure out the answer. It was only when I met my true love, Ronel, that I realized I should have not asked that in the first place.

Clearly, insecurity and these experiences got into my head, but one thing that I noticed about myself is that in every downfall, I always get back up and become a better person. I always strive to be a better version of me. In fact, my screen name "Yna" is also a product of those experiences. I always want to redeem myself and dream that one day, I will only laugh at those hurtful memories. Thus, I ultimately developed into a Type A personality: a dreamer and an achiever... very strong-willed, and a goal-getter. My self-confidence just keeps getting better and I become a stronger fighter no matter how many people would doubt me, judge me or try to bring me down.

Well, puberty was good to me. when I grew up, people started to see that I am actually beautiful in my own way. As a teenager, the "pretty one" would always be defined as light-skinned chinita with a very charming smile. I was clearly not that, but there were a few people who would make an effort to say "Actually Yna, you're beautiful." I appreciate those people so much that I would remember each person who says that to me. These people became my source of strength. And when body positivity and self-love started to become popular, especially through ambassadors Tyra Banks and Ashley Graham, I started to believe that I am beautiful as well.

The peak of this story would be when I was diagnosed with my mental disability. One of the things that a mental health patient should practice in order to heal is to love one's self. I've learned to embrace my whole being, and when I say whole, that means 100% and BOTH my perfections and imperfections. I realized that this face, this body, this voice, and this mind make me special. And like what they say, when you've reached the lowest point in your life, there's no other way but up.

This year was when I was able to pick my broken pieces and put them together little by little. I am made out passion, and my whole puzzle is made out of these pieces: fashion designing, modeling, and being a voice to people who cannot speak... to people who mirror my past-self.

There is no other invisible hand who made all these possible but God. He is only one who knows what's inside my heart, and because of His love for me, He directs me to the right path.

This year, I unexpectedly got a call from a caster who just randomly bumped into my youtube videos. She asked me to model for a beauty brand. I have been paid to become an endorser of this brand which will be launched this May 2019. We shot commercials, interviews, and photos alongside other celebrity look-alikes. Of course, I was representing Megan Young.

outtake from the endorsement shoot

I took this as a sign from God that it's a "yes" for modeling. Thus I have started to pursue it, and so far it's doing great ALONGSIDE fashion designing.

photo by Ronel Perez

People will still doubt me and try to kill my dream up to now. But this time, I know how to fight. No, I'm not your silent type: I'm a fighter. I know how to prove someone that he/she is wrong with messing up with me, but of course, in a smart and classy manner.

photo by Karl Cervantes

So if someone asks me "What makes you believe that you can be model?", this would be my answer:

Simply because I know I can and I know I will. I know I'm only 5"2. I know not everyone finds me beautiful. But to be a model is to be a representation of something, and I think I represent those who have been doubted. I practice my walks, and I make sure that my poses are on point: these are the essential skills to become a model, but more than that is self-confidence and the power to represent something. To become a model is not just to walk in the runway or pose in pictures. To be a model is to be an example. I see nothing wrong in wanting to become a model. As long as I'm not stepping on someone else's toes, it's perfectly fine that I am pursuing this. I am Yna Mendez, 5"2, and I am your #modelwithapurpose.

For my modeling portfolio, click this link.


By the way, please support a program that molds believers of different shapes and sizes, like me to be a model: To Become a Model Film School


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