Updated: Aug 10, 2018
Hi Everyone! I’m Yasemin Islek and this is my story.
I think I will first start off by saying it wasn’t easy. My whole life I have been very petite in stature and described as the skinny one. In such a judgemental world I was told I should eat more to gain weight or in worse cases I was called anorexic. Body shaming is not okay, we all come in different shapes and sizes and this really taught me to respect and appreciate everyone for their unique differences because I learnt it first hand at how hurtful comments can be damaging to self esteem and I'd never want anyone else to feel that way. Receiving such negative comments in my early life lead me to believe that I wasn’t beautiful. I was scared to show my arms and legs, so I would always try make a conscious effort to cover them up. I wasn’t in many photos and hated the idea of it. Until the age of 16 there was one particular event that made me feel like I looked nice and that was my cousins wedding. After getting my makeup and hair done I felt glamorous and took a few photos. I loved the way the photos came out and I couldn’t believe how one single event could change my mind and gave me a confidence boost. I then started to create different makeup looks and started to take photos in my room. It was so much fun editing them afterwards and learning how to use photoshop. Yes I love tapping into my creative side!
Growing up life had many challenges for me as it does for everyone, my battle was anxiety, It didn’t seem like the profession of modelling would help such situations, but in a way I found that putting on makeup, standing in front of a camera and taking photos took me to another place. I got into this zone where I could be whoever I chose to be in the image. I could display an art of emotions; fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise and happiness. I could let out my emotions, my frustrations and with each image I’d write meaningful descriptions about life. Posing in front of a camera lead me to believe that modelling was for me. I wanted to model as a profession even though I was considered too short. I researched modelling every single day. I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t know any professional models in the industry. I once sent in my applications for a model school which was accepted but without my parents support at 16 that failed. Even though they told me no, I still took photos in my room because it made me feel good. I felt happy being in front of a camera it took me away from anxiety and depressed thoughts. It made me have something to believe in, that I have a dream and that dream is to model. I had a point to prove that I can do this and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I knew I was going to create this change and one day break into the industry as a petite model. I told myself ‘YES I CAN DO THIS. YES. YES. YES. I CAN’.
At the age of 17, I brought a professional camera and took photos with a back drop using photo shop to edit my images. At the age of 19, I began to outsource using social media connecting with creative’s in the model industry such as photographers, makeup artists and hair stylists. I worked with so many different people on a weekly basis for years. It’s what I loved to do. I also would constantly apply for agencies in Australia. Unfortunately I always got knocked back being told that I was either too short or didn’t have the right look. Eventually I was signed with smaller modelling agencies in Victoria, entered in modelling pageants and became a finalist, went to industry events, built on my creative profession, was featured in magazines worldwide and completed model promotional and photographic jobs . Not in a million years did I think that I’d have the courage to stand up at Federation Square on channel 31 in front of thousands of people delivering a speech about myself and my beliefs about current world issues. I can proudly say that I didn’t let my anxiety get in the way of my dreams no matter how nervous I was, in the back of my head I told myself to be genuine, grateful and to just give myself credit for coming this far. From that magic truly happened for me and people could see that and that was why I received the people’s choice award. I not only presented myself well but I always remained true to myself and my goals.
As time passed through these smaller agencies I noticed that being signed with some of them wasn’t the right choice for me. There was a lot of delayed payments which is my eyes was very unprofessional. One agent in particular glorified me and made me the star for their agency. I formed a very close bond with this lady who in turn ended up costing me a lot of contracts with big clients due to her not being professional and gossiping about creative’s in the industry. I decided to reject signing an exclusive contract with this agency. Not knowing what the future would hold for me, I had faith that my hard work would one day pay off even more.
As I continued on my modelling career collaborating with different creative’s it all helped to lead me in the direction of my dreams today... The dreams that I was constantly told I would never have... The bad vibes didn’t stop; they kept coming from 'family culture', 'discrimination' and 'naysayers'. Coming from a Turkish background I was constantly frowned upon by family and I wasn’t supported by any of them. I literally had to live that part of my life in secret, I could never share any of my progression or my photos with any of them because of the backlash that I would receive about how modelling is seen as inappropriate and overly sexualised. I was constantly told I’d end up like that person or what I am doing is wrong and everyone is speaking about me in a nasty way. I can tell you now; it made succeeding in this industry a hell of a lot more difficult. Support is vital and every little bit I could get from those around me like friends, I appreciated more than anything. Forming a social media presence through facebook, really helped shape my perception to succeeding. It was my go to for inspiration and a confidence boost hearing from my friends and fans who believed in me every step of the way. Receiving positive feedback on my images made me feel great. Seeing my progress made me believe in myself more. I never really needed anyone’s approval but mine. To this day I am my own biggest supporter and if you aren’t yours then don’t expect anyone else to be.
I continued regardless of the so called 'limitations' that the model industry had placed, the 175cm+ rule... At 154cm I powered on. I always knew that if 'I continued doing what I love then successful outcomes WILL 100% follow' because I developed an understanding of the concept where attention goes, energy flows and the beauty of 'law of attraction'. What we put out to the universe, we get back! I never let anything stop me from pursuing what I love. Throughout studying Teaching and Creative arts at University it literally empowered me to better myself. I was learning about myself and about photography, performing and dancing which has been my background for years to then starting a new hobby in kickboxing. I never stopped writing and I still to this day read, watch and exercise positive thinking. All this has shaped me into who I am today and the work I get.
Here is one of my secrets towards my successful outcomes... 'I told myself and I made a vision board' at the age of 23 that I would model for small businesses and major corporations in food, retail, cosmetics and accessories. In particular at the start of my journey one of those major clients was Target Australia, for Dannii Minogues Petities Collection... Through observation and research in the model industry over the years I submitted myself forward again to big agents regardless of the height requirements, I believed in myself. After years of constant rejection, over a dozen times, I couldn't take no as an answer! IT'S NOT IN MY VOCABULARY! Soon I was offered positions left, right and centre. I guess I had done something right! Maybe it was all my hard work and wonderful images that payed off, or maybe it was my natural images without any makeup. I noticed I never sent agencies natural photos of myself in natural lighting and it turns out by doing this, they loved me. Too many models send in their edited photos to agencies but really what an agent wants to see more than anything is a natural Polaroid image of a model (face, side, back, full body shot), they want to see the real you and that you are comfortable in your own skin. I eventually became comfortable with what I looked like naturally and that showed on camera.
I felt absolutely amazing being signed with one of Australia's Top Modelling and Talent Agencies. Soon after I got castings... For the VIRGIN AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL FOR TARGETS COLLECTION, which is only the biggest Fashion event in Australia! WOW! The one that I was told I'd never be able to walk in... After going to my first casting with over 500+ top Australian models all above 175cm+, I was the shortest one. Yes it was intimidating being in a room full of beautiful people who were all way taller than me, I felt that awkward I went back to my car to get my bigger heels, still no luck because I’m such a SHORTAYY. I just thought to myself, I'm here for a reason, I'm going to give it my all and appreciate just being here! I felt confident and great, natural makeup and hair, just showing my true beauty. I did a cat walk twice, one in front of Top Australian Judges in the fashion industry and the second on camera! I also got my digits taken. I ended up leaving, feeling awesome... 2 weeks passed and a lot of other models told me they weren't chosen... I had my doubts but I had the target logo on my screen saver as this was from my vision board earlier created in the year. I just kept positive! That same week, I was notified that I WAS SHORT LISTED! WOOHOO... SHORTY GOT SHORT LISTED... AND A WEEK LATER I WAS CONFIRMED 100% AND IN FOR A FITTING, WHERE I MET DANNII MINOGUE! I can't help but tear up with joy at every time I think about it, how much I have achieved. Walking for the Official VAMFF 2016, seeing myself on The Morning Show, in stores and online Australia Wide, is overwhelmingly humbling.
Through modelling, dancing, kickboxing, reading and writing, I have learned the principle of the 3 P's; Practice, Patience and Persistence. ALL THREE BREED SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES! To this date I have powered on through the model industry with the help of my agencies and establishing my own clients through freelance work.
I have now worked for so many companies and projects; here is my list of my proudest moments:
· Crown Resorts
· L'Oréal Paris/Lancôme
· Herbal Essences
· Dannii Minogue's Petites Collection
· Celebrity Alex Fevola’s Runway Room
· Von Treskow Jewellery
· Portobello Jewellery
· Virgin Australia Melbourne fashion festival
· Spring Racing Events
· 9 Rounds Kickboxing
· Australis Cosmetics
I have been published in magazines worldwide, aired on television for fashion and tv shows like Neighbours, The Left Overs, House Husbands, numerous TVC's and American Movies. I have worked for many Melbourne event nights, corporate hosting at venues like Melbourne’s Plaza Ballroom and have even had a lip stick named after me by Downunder Cosmetics, which was another dream fulfilled.
Over the years I have kept constant with my social media platforms, uploading pictures of my model journey. I have amassed 32,000+ followers through Facebook, Instagram, Linked In and Star Now. Mind you I started with 0, 6 years ago. This has allowed me to be represented as a Social Media Influencer where companies pay me to advertise their products. Throughout this blog I am going to share in depth strategies that I have used that have helped me to gain this traction. It’s all about creating appropriate opportunities and being a resourceful manager for yourself. Regardless what road you wish to take within your modelling endeavors, I hope I can offer you the insight you are looking for about the modelling world.
And to leave things on an even more positive note, I’ve had a few family members come around, which I thought I’d never see happening. I really couldn’t express the amount of happiness I felt knowing that I have achieved my dreams and I will continue to build on these dreams with the support of loved ones. Things take time. I couldn’t be more grateful for the passion and burning fire within my heart that has helped me to succeed in this journey.