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Peggi Lepage's Rebecca Dunham
Modern Weekly Magazine

Rebecca Dunham

June 28, 2021

To all of you fashion divas that have been awaiting my arrival home this June, stop holding your breath I'm not coming home... yet! After a quick stint in Hong Kong, I'm back in Shanghai with a fresh visa and a new batch of stories to be told and others to remain secret. Hong Kong was a blast! I got to see some beautiful Canadian faces, including the one nearest and dearest to me. On the flight back to Shanghai, I was feeling ready to take the city by storm all over again and to jump right back into work... and jump right back into work I did! Due to a flight delay, I arrived in Shanghai at 2:00 a.m to a text message from my booker that I had a magazine shooting the next day at 7:00 a.m.!

The next morning was a bit of a struggle. I managed to arrive at the studio despite my battle with the water temperature in our shower and my taxi driver's utter confusion as to where the studio was. As I threw myself into the hair and makeup chair, I noticed that I had one pink sock on and one black, but I still relished in my unlikely punctuality. As my eyelids started to flutter closed in that half-asleep-but trying-to-stay-awake dance, Evelyn, the makeup artist, tells me "Today you are going to be a bride." Uh, SHENMA? (Shenma is 'what?' in Mandarin) I never get chosen for bridal jobs. The faces chosen for western brides in China are usually very young, doe-eyed, baby-faced. I suppose because I'm not 16 dressing as a bride isn't exciting or thrilling for me it's terrifying. My excitement for cool new tear sheets dissolved quickly as I sunk into my seat. Visions of white gowns and elaborate headpieces filled my mind as the makeup brush covered my post-flight under eye bags.

My spirits were raised as I met the rest of my team. Jean was beyond fabulous and had perfect English. He began to tell me about the clothes he had pulled for the shoot: Yves Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons, Givenchy, Dior, Jil Sander and Chanel. SHENMA? What type of bride was I going to be? As Evelyn began to white out my eyebrows, my excitement and curiosity about being a bride began to grow.

The first outfit I wore was a black Alexander McQueen corset and a black Comme des Garçons skirt. If wearing all black wasn't alternative enough, the bra portion of the corset was non-existent! Alone in the fitting room I contemplated whether to take my bra off and go back into the studio bare-chested or to push my breasts down into the corset. In Europe or North America, the stylist would let you know what they expected of you. Nudity at home tends to be less blush-worthy than in China, where even the sight of side boob evokes gawking and pointing on the street. After much debate I took off my bra and walked out hands over boobs. Jean looked confused. With a solemn look on his face he said to me "You know this shirt is meant to show your chest. Will that be ok? You won't see it in the pictures but... " He began to blush and stumble over his words, so without saying anything I removed my hands and walked onto set with a smile on my face. I think that I shocked him as much as I shocked myself. The rest of the shoot went off without a hitch and I was even given a healthy, vegan-friendly lunch! Each shot was better than the last and after 10 hours of shooting I went home a happy lady.

On my way home, I began to reflect on how being away from home for so long has affected me. So often with modelling I'm surprised by the job. In this case, getting to be the type of bride I'd actually like to be, but most importantly I'm constantly surprising myself as I discover who I am and what I'm capable of as a woman. Being away from my family and friends would trying for any person, but travelling as a model grants me the rare opportunity to examine myself without the influence of people who have known me for years. I can challenge my own values and life experiences in the context of new cultures, new jobs and new people. In these moments, I discover more and more who I am, what I aspire to be, and why I love travelling as a model.

Rebecca


Rebecca is a Peggi Lepage model, currently in Shanghai.

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