23-year-old focuses on streetwear fashion as a tattooed model

Interview with Carmen Cheok Jia May for The Mod Life column.RAYMOND OOI/ The Star

Modelling has long favoured tall women with flawless and fair complexion, but there is a growing demand for more individualistic looks and diversity, especially in Western countries. And freelance models like Carmen Cheok are happy with the turning tide.

With a total of 23 tattoos of varying sizes all over her body, she does freelance work as a tattooed model, filling the niche of select photoshoots.

“I am mostly called to model streetwear. However, the market for tattooed models in Malaysia is still very small so there are not many options here for models like me,” she said.

“For me, it was never about the tattoos at first. I was simply attracted to the idea of modelling from young,” said Cheok, who has been modelling for about four years.

She discovered her love for tattoos later on and was determined it would not get in the way of her dream of working as a model.

“I grew up in a family with strong Christian values, so my parents were initially resistant to the idea of me working as a model and having tattoos but I think they are gradually coming to terms with it,” she added.

Currently studying communications and journalism in university, Cheok plans on someday fulfilling her dream of becoming an established fiction writer.

“My mother used to work as a journalist, so I think that is where I inherited the love for writing,” she said. She has a blog and enjoys writing poems and short stories.

In her free time, she also enjoys playing tennis, swimming, shopping and travelling.

What is your favourite type of music?

“Old-school rock, and bands such as AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Dire Straits.”

What is your favourite type of book?

“I love crime fiction and true crime stories.”

What is one skill you would like to learn?

“Probably a new language, maybe French.”

What is one pet peeve you have about people?

“Spitting. It’s disgusting and I just want to tell them off.”

Who is one person in the world you would like to meet?

“Barack Obama. I just want to know how he does it; managing a country so much bigger than Malaysia.”


Model: Carmen Cheok Jia May

Born: May 31, 1991

Ethnicity: Adopted by Malaysian Chinese

parents (originally of Thai-Chinese descent)

Fluent in: English, Malay and Cantonese

*Make-up and hair by Ling Chong, using Shiseido Makeup and Shiseido Professional

*Star Metro accepts outside requests to feature both male and female modelling talents in The Mod Life. Those who are interested may send their enquiries to the writer via email.

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