Jigmi Wangdi

“I beheld the quandary, and now I am resolved to forge ahead and redress it,” declared Devika Ghalley, a model who has embarked on a journey to establish a safer haven for budding models in Bhutan, epitomising her steadfast commitment.

The exploitation of fashion or pageant models is a serious issue globally.

Devika’s journey into the world of modelling began last year when she competed in the Miss Bhutan pageant, a major milestone that launched her into unfamiliar territory.

As a young model, Devika, a young model, became entangled in the shadowy underbelly of beauty pageants, especially when she entered an international competition. During this encounter, she became acutely aware of young models’ vulnerability to exploitation in the absence of proper assistance or direction. “One’s spirit is disheartened when representing one’s homeland, only to find oneself exposed and defenseless, bereft of a refuge to turn to for succor,” she bemoaned.

As a result, Devika’s personal experiences drove her unwavering determination to create a platform that would provide professional mentorship and unwavering care to aspiring models, saving them the mental and financial hardships of their goal. In pursuit of this great purpose, she established the Supermodel Bhutan agency.

Devika spoke candidly about her impression of a lack of professionalism, mentorship, and grooming in Bhutan’s modelling industry. “However, Bhutan has made an indelible mark on international pageants and modeling. I aspire to be the catalyst that propels our country further down this path.”

Even as beauty pageants assume an increasingly global presence and the modelling industry burgeons within Bhutan, Devika’s fervent desire is to shepherd and empower young models, facilitating their realisation of untapped potential. She emphasised her conviction that modelling agencies ought to be led by women, for women.

“By no means do I intend to undermine men’s capacity in this domain, but there exists a distinctive empathetic connection when women spearhead such endeavors. We are attuned to the struggles endured by our female counterparts,” she said.

Supermodel Bhutan, Devika’s modelling agency is already in the process of grooming aspiring models. “At present, I am conducting a survey to ascertain the extent of awareness regarding the platform I am trying to cultivate,” she shared.

Nonetheless, Devika was successful in coaching a model who recently competed in an Indian beauty contest, winning the coveted Miss Congeniality award.

“Throughout the journey, I stayed by her side, ensuring she received the necessary guidance and support,” Devika said.

Devika scrutinizes every element in her efforts to protect models from vulnerability. “Even seemingly insignificant considerations like logistics and transportation can cause mental anguish in our models if they lack the financial means to sustain themselves,” she said. “Imagine the plight of a model who fails to secure victory in a competition, burdened not only by feelings of rejection but also by the dire necessity to fund their journey back home. The psychological strain is unbearable.”

Devika, as the primary coordinator, is steadfast in developing a severe system in which any individual interested in sponsoring a model under her supervision must enter into a formal contractual agreement reviewed by her.

“Many are oblivious to the fact that sponsoring a young model can also open the floodgates to exploitation,” she said.

Devika has a strong desire to build an all-inclusive and welcoming environment that embraces models of all genders. “My goal goes beyond training only female models; I want to teach anyone who wants to do this, whether it’s a male model, a transgender person, or anyone else.”

Devika is currently planning to enroll in a modeling course while also promoting the development of her agency. “Modelling is very different from beauty pageants.” While modelling includes photoshoots and print work, pageantry requires the ability to execute successfully on stage.

“Although I am adequately prepared to guide a model through the maze of beauty pageants, I yearn to expand my modelling  knowledge in order to better empower others,” Devika revealed.