Malaysians unapologetic about joining Asia’s Next Top Model

By Melanie Chalil
Alicia (left) and Shikin want to shatter the modelling industry’s standard of beauty. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

PETALING JAYA, April 3 — Fans of Asia’s Next Top Model will not have one but two local beauties to root for in this year’s competition.

City girl Shikin Gomez, 24, cut her teeth in the modelling world four years ago while Alicia Amin, 22, who was studying psychology and social work in Melbourne, Australia started modelling when she was 15.

Both are determined to shatter the modelling industry’s standard of beauty.

Shikin, a former research management employee, told a press launch of the new season she felt intimidated by the other contestants, many of whom are of Eurasian parentage.

“It’s hard for Malaysians to break into the international scene to make a name for ourselves so we have to prove we are better than the other girls,” said Shikin, who is of Indian-Malay heritage.

“Admittedly the Asian market is quite whitewashed. The industry prefers a Eurasian face rather than pan-Asian.

“When you look at these girls, you know they belong on a billboard and it makes you wonder, ‘Why am I not allowed to be there?’,” asked Alicia.

Last year, Malaysian contestant Tuti Noor faced criticism from religious quarters who said it was inappropriate for Muslim women to join the competition. However, Shikin and Alicia will not let negativity get in their way.

“I’m not scared because I know myself and will never go against my morals — if you want to be a model, you have to have a thick skin and how to defend yourself,” Shikin said.

Having dealt with criticism in the past because of her tattoos, Shikin’s Malay-German co-competitor is prepared.

“I’m not apologetic about anything because whatever I’m doing is not morally wrong,” said Alicia.

As familiar faces and names in the local modelling scene, Alicia and Shikin are certain they will receive the support should any backlash erupt.

“We are lucky to be working in the industry for years and as bad as it gets, we have the industry behind us. Tuti too received support from the scene,” said Alicia.

She added, “I feel it would have been more tragic if it was a new girl, someone who has never worked in the industry.”

Asia’s Next Top Model season five premieres on Wednesday on StarWorld Astro Channel 711 and HD 722 at 9pm.