As a co-founder of this wonderful organization, I am happy to interview the model who started it all, Asia Dyrkacz.
As a model, mentor and social entrepreneur living in NYC, Asia was happy to give her unique perspective on the following and more:
You have a successful nonprofit, Models Against Addiction, what was the genesis of this charity?
Addiction and the negative effects are very close to my heart. I understand this from a deep perspective in more ways than most people can because addiction has a long history in my family. It deeply impacted my childhood and ultimately destroyed some of the closest people in my life. Addiction took away the lives of my father and my brother. It destroyed trust and love (of my soul mate) and prevented me from a balanced and conscious life.
I went on a journey of self discovery over the years through meditation and yoga that eventually lead to breaking the bonds addiction had on my life.
On this multi-year journey, I discovered how millions of people suffer from the strangleholds of addiction. I felt compelled to reach out and formed a foundation where others who struggle with the devastation of addiction can have effective solutions to help them overcome their own inner struggles with addictive behavior. Since I have deep roots in fashion I created the Models Against Addictions Foundation. The mission of my foundation is to change the stigma of addiction and integrate meditation and yoga into the path of recovery.
Tell me about the catwalk challenge.
The negative dynamics that have been cast by society about addiction instills fear in those that suffer and it prevents victims from asking for help. Researchers and experts have found only 20% of people who suffer from addiction will admit they have a problem because they are full of shame and guilt. I feel that society is at a turning point in the way addictions are viewed and we are transcending to a place where addictive dependency can be treated with more compassion and love! That is why we came up with the idea of creating the #Catwalkchallenge.
This is meant to involve society on a more open platform and remove the stigma of addiction by embracing and supporting those that suffer from it, so they don’t have to live in fear of admitting their problem. The #Catwalkchallenge is a social forum that shows support without judgment and connects those that want to break away from addictions by challenging others to do the same runway walk. Supporters and participants can submit their videos and view others who also have posted their own #Catwalkchallenge videos for public access on social media.
By openly participating in this kind of social challenge we can redefine the stigma of addiction and make the conversations more acceptable.
With 100% female and model leadership, what is the purpose of recently founded SupeRoleModels?
Our SupeRoleModels group is comprised of a powerful modeling community. We bring years of experience and knowledge between our members. We are united to help, support and inspire models and its growing membership around the world. We are here to engage and assist models with whatever their needs are in both their professional and personal endeavors.
Our SuperRoleModel Team is a group of fashion models who will provide individual and group consultations through our workshop events. We cover many topics
to promote a health and balance in the rigorous life of a model. Each SupeRoleModel has her own area of expertise that can be beneficial in helping others.
How do you foresee the immediate impact of this group?
Primarily, we want to change the general perception of models i.e. viewed only as objects of physical beauty. The idea that models are living the life of the “Rich and Famous” in fashion, sports and music while being catered to by clients and merchandizing companies is all but a distorted fairytale except for a handful of models on a global scale.
We want to transcend this erroneous mislabeling and show our true selves as powerful women who are hard working, beautiful inside and out with dreams, goals and desires. While also having the intellect capable of making decisions in both our business and personal lives that have a positive social influence.
SupeRoleModels have an incredible impact on young girls that are just entering into the fashion arena through our workshops. We also have positions for the experienced model who wishes to participate in advising the up and coming new generation. The pathway of modeling can be quite confusing with lots of misguidance, negative influences and tough decisions. We are here to prepare them, guide them, advise them and support them along their transient journey in pursuit of success hoping to avoid the pitfalls that so many cave into – leading to addictive behavior.
We further want to shed a new light on the life of a model so the public is not misguided by this false perception of glamour.
Why is model leadership important?
It’s two fold. Modeling can be a very rewarding experience in both the personal and professional life. The ability to travel and see the world while being paid is unlike most businesses. Regardless of the obvious perks, the life of a model is far from easy.
There are no “overnight success stories”. It is important for aspiring models to understand that groundwork is required in this industry – just like any other business. We are here to help, inform, enlighten and offer assistance to models that have the goal of building a successful career.
With the potential of a lucrative career, there are so many opportunities for starting non-profit organizations, like ours, that can benefit the public and many in need outside of the fashion industry.
What is your opinion in the #metoo and #timesup movement?
I think it is an incredible time when finally women are able to unite around the world and start the necessary conversation about abuse and harassment without the fear that has plagued so many women. Women are coming forth and sharing their stories that have been hidden out of the fear of retaliation from those that hold power in the entertainment business. This also greatly includes the modeling business. I am also part of the #metoo movement.
At Superolemodels likewise offers a safe place and platform where models can share safely and feel a sense of community. As women we are stronger together. By engaging in discussions we have the ability to change the way we are treated.
It is true our bodies and faces are objectified in the magazine pages, product campaigns, TV commercials and runway events to sell product – not unlike how a car manufacturer dresses up a car in color and body design for public appeal – but that’s where the line must be drawn. We are not just a physical object.
We support these new efforts on the part of women coming forth and openly addressing the perpetrators of past transgressions. It must be understood there are many men who have not come forth to openly discuss these issues. It is our hope at Superolemodels we will serve as a venue for that dialogue as well.
With so many members of differing backgrounds, how does this group come together as a cohesive whole?
The modeling business is very diverse. The “In Look” of a model changes almost as fast as the designers change their styles. Models come from every corner of the planet seeking the successful life of a top money maker.
Superolemodels is based on a foundation for support of the common good of all models regardless of ethnicity, country of origin or religious belief. We have a vast range of membership amongst us. Collectively we probably speak about one half of the world’s most spoken languages. This gives us a vast array of resources for new models to draw on.
In your opinion, what is the intersection of art and fashion. How can you use this to change the world?
In a wide sense of the word modeling is a form of art. Look at the great master photographers, such as, Avedon, Horst, Penn, and Demarchelier; they all used models in some of their greatest works to create a powerful and timeless image. It is a known fact within the industry that fashion supports art and art supports fashion. Go to any fashion event and you’ll see a long list of artistic creatives in the audience.
By combining these two creative outlets to inspire the public, we create a synergistic parallel of art forms that draws crowds.
During fashion week Superolemodels gave free meditation sessions to the models at the CAAFD shows. Why is meditation important, especially in the competitive fashion industry?
Unless you’re a in the industry, you have no idea what its like backstage pre-show. It’s a madhouse and sometimes everything that can go wrong does. Designers are in chaos because something or someone didn’t show up. Quite often there are last minute schedule changes. Racks of clothes may show up last minute due to a delivery error. It trickles down from the top backstage; the designers’ nerves are on edge. This permeates throughout the entire backstage team.
During NYFW and beyond, models will be booked for sometimes 3 and 4 shows in one day. Imagine the intensity of that stress level. At the end of a the day a model can be a nervous wreck. Designers get to go home because their show is over until the season. Models must go back the next day – for 7 days straight multiple times a day until fashion week closes.
This is why we have our meditation backstage and pre-show sessions. We are there for the models to calm nerves, and help them get through the week in one piece mentally and physically. The general public has no idea what this time is like for the model. This can lead to post fashion week breakdowns. We are here to help avoid these kinds of situations by keeping the stress levels at a minimum so the entire team backstage can function fluidly and calmly.
Where will Superolemodels be in 5 or 10 years?
We would like to become a platform for other organizations within the modeling industry to unite, collaborate, organize workshops, and create events. We aim to have a voice and influence on a global scale. We are soon planning to engage with other organizations including the United Nations to be seen and heard.
How do you take your coffee?
I will only drink coffee with cream and honey. My morning cup of coffee is a moment of celebration for myself; I plan my day and create my own reality!