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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
The New Paper
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Instant fame, future shame?
by Joyce Lim

[Photo: (left) Justina Ong and (right) Christy Yow]

WHEN Evangeline Tay Su Ann, 22, was fined $2,000 for paying someone to take the fall for her driving offence, she caused a stir beyond her offence.

For most of the day after her case was reported a fortnight ago, she was the most searched item on Google Trends for Singapore.

Why? Because she was a model whose saucy photos had appeared in a now-defunct men’s magazine.

Would she have aroused as much interest if she were a mere Miss Nobody? Her story is a revealing lesson of how pictures taken in the past can return to haunt you.

Are aspiring models going into such photo shoots with their eyes open? “Yes,” said part-time model Justina Ong, who has also posed for such photos. “Taking those photos is an experience that I won’t regret.

“They’re just photos and they are good keepsakes. Our society is open-minded enough to know that these photos can’t tell you much about a person.”

Justina, 20, who is re-taking her GCE O-level exams as a private candidate this year, posed for her first set of lingerie shots in FHM magazine’s “girl-next-door” contest in 2009.

She said she used to party frequently with Tay two years ago. Tay was young and ignorant, she said, and didn’t think when she decided to pay someone to take the rap for her driving offence back then.

“If you are famous, or have been exposed in the media, you need to be extra careful in the things that you do,” Justina said.

Professional photographer Raymond Toh, who has worked with young, aspiring models in the past 16 years, has a different view. Young models, he said, feel they need to strip to get more attention.

“Many of them are ignorant,” he said. “All they want is to have more photos taken of them and get a chance to appear on the covers of magazines.

“Most would start with fashion shoots in casual outfits. Then, slowly they realise that they need to be more daring and do swimwear or lingerie shoots to generate demand for themselves.”

Mr Toh, who runs Vineyard Production, which specialises in commercial and corporate jobs, used to shoot for lad mags like FHM and Maxim.

Limelight irresistible

For model Calista Lim, the limelight is irresistible.

Miss Lim, 25, who has been on the covers of Newman and Hotstuff magazine, said: “How many people get a chance to be in the limelight?”

She realised that her past pictures could affect her future when she applied for jobs in the banking industry.

Miss Lim, who graduated with a degree in Mass Communication from Oklahoma University in 2007, said: “It had never occurred to me before that I would be recognised from my photos in those magazines.

“I feel people shouldn’t undervalue women as a whole and diminish them to sexual objects.”

She added that she has no qualms taking such pictures because people should not think of women in that way, and that there was “nothing wrong with such photos”.

Photographer Jeff Tan, 30, who has shot for lad mags like VIP, often gets requests from younger models, aged between 17 and 25, asking to be put on the covers of such magazines.

“These models are willing to do anything to get onto the covers of the magazines as they believe that they can become famous overnight.”

He has also seen how some models would later regret and be worried about what the photographer would do with their nude photos after the shoot.

Mr Tan said: “These girls seek fame, but many of them are too young to be able to handle the pressure that comes with it.”

Mr Rovin Wong, who runs Cover Look Photography, said that only lad mags like FHM give young local models the exposure.

Mr Wong said: “Today’s top selling magazines like Her World, would only put celebrities or top models, most of whom are foreigners, on their covers.

“Our local models don’t stand a chance. So (they feel) they need to do more to get the attention.”

Mr Wong, whose company specialises in makeover photo shoots, has noticed an increase in requests for nude photos from young, aspiring models, to be used in their portfolio.

“I’m surprised that these women trust us so much that they do not even ask us to delete the photos in their presence.

“But I always tell my staff to delete all the nude photos after we have delivered them to our clients, to avoid any problem in the future.”


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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Instant fame, future shame?


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