Model Shanina Shaik who will soon be seen on first-ever Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s cover has quite an unconventional story of struggle – thanks to her multicultural background. Having a father of Saudi-Pakistani origin, the 28-year old belongs to Saudi, Pakistani, Lithuanian and Australian ethnicity and while this sounds too interesting, life wasn’t a bed of roses for Shanina.
In the January 2020 edition of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia – where Shanina is the first cover girl – the model has opened up about her struggles from an early age to modeling career due to her “different looks”.
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An AMAZING start to the new year!!!✨✨ It’s an honor to be the first cover girl for @harpersbazaararabia 2020 💛 This cover and inside story is very special to me – it marks 20 years in the modeling industry for me . I discuss the issues and challenges I’ve had to deal with attached to diversity and trying to find a place in the industry being a Saudi, Pakistani, Lithuanian, Aussie model. I have shared personal stories about the year that has passed and what I look forward too for the future. Thank you so very much @salmaawwadofficial & @oliviaphillipsbazaar for choosing me to be a part of this beautiful issue! @gregswalesart I adore you and think you’re an outstanding photographer 🧡 Grateful for the amazing team Styling @anna_castan Makeup @manulosadagomez Hair @annesofie.begtrup Set designer @styleisnecessity Producer @beats.love.lipstick Junior fashion editor @tabithaglaysher Read all about my story in the link in my bio
“I remember going to castings in Europe and getting turned away because of my skin colour. That was only six years ago,” says Shanina in the interview.
She further recalls bullying in school due to which she wanted to opt-out of schooling.
“It was emotional abuse, every single day. And once one of the popular girls starts picking on you, it’s like a domino effect. So I became so insecure, my grades dropped, and eventually, I just stopped going to school,” says the former Victoria Secret model.
She continues, “We’ve come a long way, and we are moving towards a better future. But there are still some jobs I don’t book because I don’t fit into a certain category.”
“I’ve had to bang down so many doors for people to understand and embrace me. I had to leave Australia to book jobs in New York because I didn’t look like an average Australian girl, but then in New York, they told me I was too sexy and I’d never do high fashion,” says the Australian beauty.
However, after her struggles, Shanina stands at a strong, tall place and has much to educate the masses.
“Beauty doesn’t just have to be one segment or category — it should be international. Why does it matter what colour your skin is? It should matter who you are,” she beautifully concludes.
Shanina also took to Instagram to share her achievement of becoming first Harper’s Arabia girl.
“This cover and inside story is very special to me – it marks 20 years in the modeling industry for me. I discuss the issues and challenges I’ve had to deal with attached to diversity and trying to find a place in the industry being a Saudi, Pakistani, Lithuanian, Aussie model,” Shanina’s caption for the beautiful cover says.