Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham

November 20, 2021

The Holiday Q&A

For the first time in two years I'll be home for Christmas. I spent the last two Christmases sitting in studios, dreaming of cozying up beside a fake fireplace with a vegan hot chocolate in hand. I haven't forgotten entirely, though, that the holidays don't really resemble Christmas cards. Going home will more likely invite an onslaught of "life" questions and family pressure. While this focus on my future comes from love and concern, being asked what I want to do when I "grow up" or what my plans are for after modelling don't fit into my fireside vision. I do have a family that understands, but there is always someone who doesn't seem to fully grasp my lifestyle and chooses to challenge my decisions.

My preparations for home are peppered with evolving answers to these looming questions, but the self-doubt they provoke does dampen my holiday spirit.

Though my life trajectory is far from conventional, I feel more and more confident that I'm creating something I can be proud of as I go. Modelling has forced me to become more independent and mature than I otherwise might have been. I've learned to deal with difficult situations in foreign countries and to adapt to different cultures. Having gone two years without seeing my family, I have met people from every walk of life and forged my own ever-growing family of models and locals wherever I go. Every job, every city and almost every day living as a foreigner presents a new challenge for me that was never presented to me growing up in a suburb.

As long as I love it I don't have to quit; there is no expiration date on a career until you have decided you are finished. Society and the fashion industry are changing. Modelling isn't a career that is reserved for 16 year olds and major brands in the industry continue to diversify. Bloggers no longer focus their street style lens exclusively on pretty young things (just look at Ari Seth Cohen's blog Advanced Style). Not that I've reached my golden years by any means, but as a young woman there is heightened pressure to "settle down" or to be "serious."

One of the many reasons I enjoy my career as a model is the freedom that it affords me. With my downtime and travelling I've been able to explore other avenues and interests that I might never have been exposed to otherwise. I'm able to write, design clothes, read, draw, cook food from all over the world and practice yoga in exotic locations. I draw influence and inspiration from the people and places I visit. I'm able to complement my modelling career while expanding my knowledge and skills for other career paths I'm interested in pursuing. I choose to replace my anxiety about what to do when I "grow up" with optimism and excitement about the myriad options I get to explore now.

I'll never know if I've made the right decisions, but I do know that I won't regret having seen two worlds with open eyes. A new path can be taken at any time; I'm not tethered to my modelling career. There is no short answer to the questions I anticipate at home, only the polite explanation that I am right where I need to be -- and add some alcohol to that hot chocolate. After all, I'm of age.



Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca Dunham for Marie Claire

Rebecca is with 21mm, in Jakarta.


Blogs We Follow

Cailin Hill (The Model Burnbook)

Natalia Zurowski & Jasmine Chorley Foster (The Business Model)

Madison Schill & Addison Gill's (Mind Over Model)

Ania Boniecka (A n i a . B)