We met America’s Next Top Model’s latest winner Jourdan Miller backstage as she was preparing for another show at Digital Fashion Week. A slew of interviews and doling out incessant beauty tips had worn her out. We were told beforehand that she might not be in the mood for another interview.
“Can we talk after the show?”
Jourdan was polite to us, assuring us that we could still speak to her. After the show had ended, a visibly worn-out Jourdan was still all smiles as we adjourned to a more quiet spot, away from the madness of the four-day fashion week.
If you have read many of Jourdan’s blogposts on her website, you will find that she is more than just a pretty face. Her passion for the spoken and written word comes through in her interviews and articles, yet the only question journalists seem to be asking her are beauty and workout tips. (Don’t ask her about exercise: she told us she hates that question because “I don’t have a regimen”.)
Are females oversexualised?
So, we dropped the bomb: As a female, how does she feel the female form is being treated in the public eye?
“There is an over-sexualisation going around: in order for you to be successful, you either have to sleep your way to the top or be a sex symbol. The actresses out there are struggling because they’re not being offered roles unless they’re taking all their clothes off. It’s totally wrong,” said Jourdan confidently.
Her views also cross into an oft-debated aspect of modeling: going nude for photos. While Jourdan feels that going naked is wrong, she believes in women having the right to agency, deciding for themselves instead of caving in to external pressure.
“I wonder how a model would feel 15 years later when her children are on Google and they type in Mom’s name and all of a sudden, all these naked pictures pop up. There should be some mystery left to a woman: she has that power over a man to be like, “What am I wearing underneath my clothes?”, you know?” said Jourdan.
Recalling a magazine editorial that she rejected because of the requirements to go nude, Jourdan thought of her following. “All my fans are 12 (years old) and up. For them to see in that type of situation, they would think “For me to be beautiful, I would have to take my clothes off.” I don’t want that image. You can still be everything you want to be but not this over-sexualised human being trying to please everybody all the time.”
When the hate was too much to handle
Jourdan’s right to self was put to the test after winning Top Model, when the criticism came in droves from media and trolls. Especially in the online sphere, the pressure was too much to bear.
“I was starting to get a lot of negative comments and cyberbullying. It put me in this really dark place. I used to get on Instagram and cry every day because of all the hurtful things people would say.”
“But then, I’d have to realise, “I chose this”. I have to learn how to deal with it and embrace it in a positive way. My solution is to that is to calm myself down. It’s somebody else’s opinion. It doesn’t matter. I am myself and I just have to forget the criticism,” said Jourdan.
The bullying hits close to home for Jourdan because she revealed to Popspoken that some of her friends have committed suicide due to bullying.
“I felt that same feeling of wanting to disappear — not necessarily killing myself, but just wanting it all to stop, to shut it all out. That’s why I feel so strongly about monitoring my comments on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Any type of negative attention that I’m getting, I remove it,” said Jourdan.
“I don’t need to see it and other people don’t need to see it either because if they see it, they might do the same thing to somebody else. Nobody deserves to be humiliated to death, literally.”
Her passion to educate and nurture
After reading a speech that Monica Lewinsky did recently about cyberbullying, Jourdan believes she needs to be an advocate against cyberbullying after experiencing it herself.
“They get on the Internet and hide behind that screen name and think it’s ok to do the same thing. It’s not. We’re all so technology-based now, hiding behind (a screen). There needs to be people who are willing to say “This is not ok”,” said Jourdan.
“(People say) “Oh, that’s what you get for being famous”. No, when you’re famous, you’re supposed to be a voice to people that can’t have the influence that you do.”
That passion to educate and nurture also seeps into her other ambition: to teach writing. School is in the backburner but she hopes that once she has found balance in work and family, she can go back to school and finish college.
“My grandfather was a teacher and my mum trains people to have good interpersonal skills. Watching them help other people (made me) have that need to (do so). I also love children, so it was a no-brainer — I want to teach them how to express themselves,” Jourdan enthuses.
She expressed that same care when we asked her what she would say to a fan who is having a bad day.
“I have bad days too and you have to remember to pull through. Love yourself and realise that your family and friends are there for you. You’re not alone in this world and everyone’s going through the same thing you are. Just remember to be happy because life is a gift and we only have one chance, so why not make the best of it?”
The honesty and authenticity that Jourdan espouses is perhaps most encapsulated by her choice of music. “I have the Lorde album and I play that on repeat all the time. I love her style, how real she is. She doesn’t take the crap from people.”
Photos: Digital Fashion Week Singapore & VIILevent Photography