This post was first uploaded on hoolah on 2 August 2020.
On paper, Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw is a model with a tall, lissom figure who walks the runway and appears on the covers of editorial magazines. She appears to be the kind of person who is soft-spoken, meek and easily imposed on. But to judge one’s character from a series of well-framed photographs would be folly (and wrong). And my very initial interaction with Aimee had showed me otherwise.
Aimee seems to possess all the qualities you need in a friend. She is sassy yet tactful, infectious yet unimposing, free-spirited and wholly dynamic. More importantly, she is a listener (which she claims to be in her group of friends) who intently pays heed to my questions and maintains strong eye contact throughout our conversation. In other words, she is the epitome of what a really, really close friend ought and meant to be. And admittedly, I have a lot to learn in retrospect.
Having moved to sunny Singapore when she was 10 years old, Aimee, who is now a permanent resident, says, in an interview with Her World, that she is a “Singaporean at Heart”. Somehow, I don’t find myself doubting her. “I love Milo Dinosaur,” she had said earlier on, revealing her love for food that are chocolaty in nature.
The 24-year-old was most notably known to have represented Singapore on the regional stage in Season Three of Asia’s Next Top Model back in 2015. She was only 19 then, and crowned third in the competition. A year later, she was seen walking the runway on Singapore Fashion Week for brands, such as Tiffany & Co and Nida Shay. Fast forward today, she had just completed her college studies from King’s College London.
“Being on Asia’s Next Top Model was definitely a definitive period of my life because my career trajectory completely changed after the show—and that was a really nice surprise!” she tells me cheerfully. But even so, the then 19-year-old has had a small hiccup on the competition: In the show’s second episode, Aimee was fat-shamed by a guest judge on regional TV. “(The guest judge) had said that I needed to work out more and in that one picture, I looked ‘lazy’,” she recounts. “To be fair, I knew nothing of health, fitness and eating well, so I definitely was not fit. It was a good wakeup call.”
To her, the competition was a modelling boot camp which serves to hone her dexterity and versatility as a model. Becoming more confident and getting better at interpreting clothes, she reveals, were some of the practical takeaways.
Perhaps to the uninitiated, the modelling industry is about the glitz and glamour. On the screen, we are exposed to sights of women (and men), in gorgeous accessories and immaculate makeup, strutting down the runway in looks that run the gamut from elegant to sophisticated, exaggerated to minimalist. For the most part, it can be difficult to not stare wide-eyed in envy at these professional “catwalkers”. But for those who are well-exposed to the industry, the glitz and glamour are just part of a larger package. There is, after all, a not-so-glamourous side to the industry, and Aimee is forthright about it too.
“My initial impression of the modelling industry was that it is very brutal. It is still brutal today, but there’re a lot more supportive people in it too. Which makes it really fun because I get to work with so many amazing teams.” Aimee is also quick to add, “If you learn to brush aside the critics and the hate that some people say, it’s not that bad.”
Today, it would be virtually impossible to dismiss the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the fashion industry. With major runway shows now cancelled or postponed, big-name retailers going bankrupt as well as small-scale businesses closing their doors, there are a lot of uncertainty in the air. For the most part, Aimee seems happy to back on the sunny island with her family and friends. When she is not modelling, she is busy creating new content on her YouTube channel or challenging herself to a new workout routine.
And I am sure, given time, she will soar far beyond in the post-coronavirus era.
Hey Aimee, how has the recent circuit breaker been?
The circuit breaker hasn’t been too bad for me actually! My family and I got into a really great routine where we’d wake up in the morning and all workout together (we’ve been doing the Insanity workouts!!) and then we can spend the afternoon doing our own thing, whether that’s content creating, YouTube, or studying for exams. Every night after dinner it’s movie night so we spent these last few months really enjoying family company.
If you were not a model, what would you be?
I would be a Clinical Psychologist. I studied Psychology in university and am incredibly passionate about mental health.
How would you describe yourself when no one is watching?
Pretty boring (laughs). When I’m not around people, I like doing my own thing. Sometimes I’m very productive, but I also cherish the rare moments I have to myself to unwind.
What’s your workout routine like?
Throughout the week, I rotate between yoga, spinning and F45 HIIT classes with one rest day (maybe two if I’m busy!).
How would you describe the modelling industry?
Cut-throat and brutal at times, but with the right attitude it can be an incredible place of creativity and meeting or working with new teams.
What is your favorite memory down the runway?
I walked for Jason Wu one year for Singapore Fashion Week—that was insane! Bella Hadid wore the dress that I wore down the runway a few weeks later and I was livid. It was so exciting to walk for such a huge international designer, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity!
Can taste be acquired?
Definitely, as long as you’re open-minded and receptive! At least for myself, I’ve noticed that if you’re exposed to a certain trend or type of food and are willing to give it a try, the initial sense of aversion eventually dissipates. It just goes to show that something that’s outside your comfort zone isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What does good styling mean to you?
A way to express yourself without words. Something that instantly conveys your sense of self and who you are as soon as you walk into the room.
What sort of rejections do you remember facing in your younger days?
I was rejected from countless jobs because of poor skin, and had to face harsh words when it came to my body during a time when I wasn’t taking care of my health.
When and what was the happiest moment of your life?
So far, I’d say… graduating university at the top of my class a year ago! It was a very big decision to step back from my modelling career to study. It was also so much more difficult than I had anticipated when it came to balancing between modelling and my studies. At the end of it all, I’m so glad that I got to achieve both to my best potential.
How will you be spending national day this year?
Spending it with family! Indoors and away from crowds, of course.
What is one word that describes staying in Singapore?
What do you think is your life purpose?
To inspire and educate others through my platform to be themselves, find comfort and gratitude in the small things in life especially when things are hard, and to know that even small progress is progress—not everything has to be a sprint.