PNG model takes stand against violence
A Papua New Guinea model who regards herself as a pioneer is facing a storm of abuse for not fitting cultural norms.
A Papua New Guinea model, who regards herself as a pioneer, is facing a storm of abuse for not fitting cultural norms.
Noreen Pisa made the finals of Miss Global International earlier this year but says she has been receiving abusive messages about her attire and her choice of profession.
Ms Pisa told Koro Vaka'uta this may be because the modelling industry is new to PNG.
NOREEN PISA: Back at that time when I was growing up there was none, there was like nothing at all. So now becoming one of the first to have branched out in this very new industry to Papua New Guinea there are lots of people who don't understand what modelling is. They see it so differently like so westernised. I have a lot of criticism, a lot of supporters as well, but I think it has opened a lot of mindsets. People are starting to think outside the box, like, I can't just follow everyone's rule like grow up and do this and do that, that's what they expect. You can be whoever you want to be. You can be an individual.
KORO VAKA'UTA: What has been the main kind of criticism that you have got?
NP: The main critique is being in a bikini. They think that we are not living in our culture. Culturally I am breaking the rules or something like that. It's seen as most people are like 'oh you are prostitute, you are a slut dressing like that' and they don't accept it. A bikini is just one part of the pageant and one part of modelling. There is so much more to it. Most of the people are very narrow-minded that they see it like 'oh you just strut yourself in a bikini' and it's not part of our culture but actually our culture shows every bit of your skin. When you think about it, if I dress up in my traditional dress I will have my boobs out and everything but a bikini has coverage.
KV: Discrimination against women, is that a platform that you are feeling strong about and that you are using in your role?
NP: I did a monologue about Papua New Guinea. So many cultures and more than 800 different languages and we are so unique out of the rest of the world. I was talking about all our cultures and traditions and everything and then I mentioned the violence that women face everyday in Papua New Guinea. It is a major issue. It has been a major issue in past years. Lots of women are being abused, being raped, being killed because they think that they are witches. It is a very big issue in Papua New Guinea so I did some awareness. This is one of the things I wanted to do, help women in PNG in whatever I can do like do awareness.
KV: By bringing awareness you hope that more will be done to address the situation?
NP: Yes, using my platform, encourage girls to be whoever they want to be, in whatever industry they want to take up and be themselves. I am a pioneer in my industry and I want to be there for the aspiring models coming up. I don't want them to go in the same situations that I have been going through like being bullied and all that. I hope that people start to recognise that it is an industry and it helps. Modelling has helped me a lot. It's my self-esteem and my confidence and it's more than just a bikini.
Noreen Pisa says she hopes to return to PNG one day to start a modelling agency for young women.
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