By Jason Arland
When people ask me what drove me to build a career in fashion and makeup, I never have a clear answer for them. I never dreamt of being a part of this industry. It just happened for me.
I’m Jason Arland and I’m a dancer, performer, model and makeup artist.
I’ve had a simple childhood and grew up with parents who are from creative backgrounds. They brought me up with complete love and support and always told me that education and hard work are the path to success.
My journey as a model and internet personality has had its fair share of ups and downs. I was always passionate about makeup, fashion, and dance. My friends and family often told me to pursue fashion as a career and so I did.
It all began with my introduction to the space called the internet. When I was growing up, there was something called BBM. My friends gradually introduced me to other forms of social media like Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.
I’ve been doing my own makeup since I was 14 and have always been into stitching and experimenting with my clothes.
So I started uploading pictures and makeup tutorials online. To my surprise, the response I was getting, was actually pretty amazing. This was the stepping stone for my journey.
I came to Bombay when I was 18 and I was scared, excited and kind of lost. It was definitely a culture shock.
I started working at this beauty store and then one day a photographer spotted me and told me he wanted to click me. I didn’t believe him at first but then he took some pictures that went viral and that’s how my modeling career began.
Lakme is the brand that I started my career with. When I had come to Bombay initially, I had given up everything to be there. I wanted to establish myself as a makeup artist and so I started distributing my visiting cards at the Lakme terrace to anyone and everyone whose clothes I liked, or who looked couture.
Some of them tossed it right away, some took it, some said they weren’t interested and others complimented me on my quirky look.
But I was resolute, full of potential and shameless.
I didn’t give up.
And here I am today, four years later, walking the ramp for Chola The Label with Prateik Babbar at the Lakme Fashion Week. It has by far been the most surreal experience ever. I absolutely loved every bit of it.
However, all this was not without struggle. Maybe not struggle in the conventional sense, but struggle for sure.
I struggled in meeting the wrong people, in having people take me for granted. It was a struggle everyday.
My quirky look with piercings, makeup and tattoo often gave people the wrong idea. It was hard for people to take me seriously since I was a boy who liked wearing makeup.
In spite of never having been a rebel child, people would always assume that I was a rebel, because of my look. It was difficult for people to digest the fact that I am a boy and I like wearing makeup.
One of the greatest ironies I found that Bombay threw at me, was the fact that while it was all accepting, it was also all isolating.
When I was picked up by ‘higher’ modeling agencies, I felt a little insecure about myself. I felt like I was maybe too skinny, too brown, too short, not the right body type etc.
In theory, they talk of body positivity, but in reality, what is true is unacceptable to them.
They tapped the insecurity and tried to bring me down, but I had found a way to feel beautiful, from inside and out. Makeup for me was a way to express myself, to feel good about myself. So I let go of my insecurities and I embraced myself and used social media to express all my talents.
I got a lot of support from my parents and my friends and my followers and subscribers online. But there was hate and negativity as well. I chose to ignore it. Ignorance is my policy. Hateful opinions don’t matter in the face of love.
I’ve often been seen as an endorser of gender fluidity. However, I find the term a little problematic. I have a problem with labels. The phrase ‘gender fluid’ itself is boxed. I don’t like putting things in boxes. When people ask me who I identify as, I say, I identify as an artist and a human being.
Labels like ‘homosexual’, ‘fem’, ‘butch’ put people in a box. No one should be in a box. I’ve been lucky enough to be currently working with a company called My Glam, which supports the same ideas of fluidity and not putting things into boxes.
I am not entitled to be ‘somebody’. I can be anybody. I can be wonder woman. No one should stop you from being who you are. Your theory about yourself is what makes you special.
My journey, like anyone else’s, has been full of highs and lows. I’ve had some good times and some not so good times. The importance of familial support, education and hard work is undeniable.
One needs to learn to ignore the haters and love yourself no matter what.
Learn to accept yourself and embrace yourself the way you are, with all your flaws and talents and all else will fall into place.
Jason Arland is a 22-year-old fashion icon, model, dancer, and makeup artist. He started his career at 18 and is a fashion student. He loves makeup and feels like its a medium for him to express himself. He has his own makeup tutorial blog on YouTube and has modelled for brands like My Glam, NYX, Lakme, Givenchy etc.
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