POV: I was a runway model for Fashion Art Toronto

From a young age, fashion is something I always found super fascinating; I can remember various family photoshoots I did as a kid and even some iconic portraits of young me.

Whether it was strutting in my mom’s heels or experimenting with her makeup, I always found myself being gravitated to the world of fashion and all the liberating self-expression that came with it.

Throughout elementary school, I loved doing photoshoots with my friends and that creative endeavour flourished into something bigger as I grew up. In high school, I started doing photoshoots with professional photographers which allowed me to build a portfolio and after entering my second year of University, I was finally ready to achieve my next goal – walking a runway. With this portfolio I had been building, I decided to try my luck and applied to Fashion Art Toronto’s Fall show, I didn’t know what to expect but my motto has always been “go big or go home,” so applying as a Toronto Fashion week runway model was a no brainer. Fun fact, the “runway walk video” I submitted in my application was from the Canadas Drag Race episode I was featured on.

I didn’t hear back for a few months so I figured I wasn’t accepted, but just as I’d lost hope I received an email congratulating me on being chosen for the model roster. Following that exciting email, I received 3 more, this time from designers who wanted me to walk for their brands, I eagerly replied expressing my gratitude and excitement and the preparation process began in full swing. 

"As a queer person, I find myself constantly fighting not only for representation but the ability to take up space."

As much as this opportunity was a dream come true, there’s another side to this that made me extremely nervous and anxious. As a queer person, I find myself constantly fighting not only for representation but the ability to take up space. Confidence varies from person to person, however, even as an individual who would consider himself pretty outgoing and confident, I still find myself justifying my queerness and the need for others to accept me. Although the fashion and modeling industry has long been aligned as a queer safe space, I still was pretty nervous about being a queer individual in a professional fashion show setting. It was my first real experience in the fashion industry and I didn’t want my queerness to either loose me opportunities or stereotype me for very similar ones. I found myself lowering my voice and trying to represent myself more “masc” as I met with designers and models. 

I have worked incredibly hard to erase all the deep-rooted internalized homophobia but sometimes my overthinking and nerves get the best of me. I think it’s normal to feel insecure within our identities from time to time; sexuality and self-identity are both on very vast and forever changing spectrums. 

This feeling was such an important one for this experience because of what it taught me. As I finished my fittings and it was finally time for fashion week, I was blown away by the amount of support, love and acceptance the queer community was shown in this space. There were queer designers, organizers, models and even queer centered fashion in the shows. It was especially heartwarming to me when I saw drag queens walking in the same shows as heterosexual men and women, these shows not only highlighted some very amazing queer art/artists but also normalized the representation of queer people in professional spaces shared with those who identify as heterosexual.

My experience in the FAT fashion show solidified for me that I should never be afraid to take up space as a queer person. The fashion show was a celebration of all walks of life and brought unlike friends and critics together to appreciate the same thing – art and self expression. This was one of the first industry settings I have ever felt wholeheartedly accepted and it really allowed me to break down those self sabotaging thoughts I carry around with me. 

Before I even grew to understand my sexuality, fashion was already allowing my queerness to have an outlet and shine through. After this experience, I no longer feel as afraid to be my full self in career settings and especially in my passions. It was very important for me to share this experience with the world because I know someone out there is feeling the same way I do – the same way I did. So, to end this POV off ill leave you with some words of encouragement.

Be you and only you. I spent so much of my life trying to be someone or something I am not and It has only led me to feel inauthentic and small. Queerness makes you unique and allows you to be apart of a community of individuals who are all here and ready to support you wherever you are in your journey. From the closeted jock to the transitioning baddie, you are valid and you are so very important for bringing new flavours and perspectives into this world but also for inspiring generations to come. As much as this will be easier said than done, don’t be afraid to take up your space. You are here for a reason and it’s people apart of the 2SLGBTQ+ community who are changing these big industries as we know it. 

Looking for more content from Ethan?

@itgetsbettercanada Our friend @ethanbgarcia (he/him) is here to share his unique experience coming out as pansexual! (part 1/3) #pansexuał #comingoutstory #ItGetsBetter #ItGetsBetterCanada ♬ original sound - It Gets Better Canada

About Author

Ethan Berkeley-Garcia (He/Him) is a pansexual actor, singer/songwriter and model from Brampton, Ontario. He currently has released two songs which are on all major streaming platforms and hopes to release a debut album in the near future. You may have seen Ethan on television as a “sidekick news anchor” for CBC’s Recap, onstage in a plethora of musicals including but not limited to Newsies, Hairspray and The Little Mermaid or in various magazines. Besides his creative pursuits, Ethan is a huge advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ rights and continues to use his art and platform to foster equality for all.



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