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First Tibetan Model Appears on Catwalk
A young Tibetan woman has become thefirst of her nationality to appear in the finals of the China World Model Competition.

"I am No.10 competitor. My name is Degyid. I am very happy to stand here today, and I hope everyone likes me," says the professional model. She is greeted with warm applause.

Degyid, 20, is 1.77 meters tall and comes from a sports-loving family. Her father, Degdrug, is a basketball-player, and her mother, Gonqug, is an archer.

An amateur model for many years, Degyid was used to traditionalTibetan clothes. She had never worn fashion costumes before, let alone a swimsuit.

"I have been showing Tibetan clothes for many years, but have never attended a modern fashion show, especially a swimsuit show,"Degyid said. "This is my first time in a modern fashion show. I feel a little embarrassed. But the applause makes me relaxed and now I think there is no need to be shy. It is necessary for modelsto try different garments. It seems that now I prefer modern clothes."

The word Degyid means happiness in Tibetan. To Degyid, happiness has the same meaning as beauty. She is seeking beauty, in cosmetics and clothes, in performing folk dance in Langma hall to learning how to strut on the catwalk.

Degyid was chosen by the Tibetan model team 1998. She spent four years on the stage. She gave up the chance to have a steady job and devoted herself to modelling. The model team had 20 members at the beginning, but many left due to the unpredictable life and hard training. Only eight, including Degyid, stuck it out.

"According to traditional Tibetan ideas, it is unacceptable fora woman to work as a model or an athlete," Zhaxi, coach of the Tibetan model team, said.

Degyid got understanding and support form her mother. "Mum is always my strongest supporter," she said.

Gonqug comes to see her daughter at every show.She said, "Degyid has been interested in this since she was a little girl. She studied folk customs at school and chose to be a model after graduation. She has a gift and I have always supported her becauseshe likes it. As it is against Tibetan tradition, many relatives tried to persuade her to give up this public-performance job and find other work. But I believe she will succeed one day."

The Tibetan model team emphasizes local dance elements and teaches gymnastics in body shape training. Rhythm training is alsonecessary. Although amateur models are not required to have strength training, Degyid works very hard and excels in performance. After training, she goes to the gym.

Degyid distinguishes herself in the model team with her hard work. She has attended many activities such as the National Exhibition of Minority Fashion, a trade-fair in Hongkong and the ceremony for the 50th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation.

Li Dechao, member of the competition judging committee and vice-president of Art Academy of Suzhou University, said, "Degyid is unique for her healthy and beautiful figure. She is quite confident and has enough experience of catwalk performance to helpher to be an ideal individual fashion model."

An image-designer from Greemneler Company in Hong Kong said, "Degyid is really a beautiful girl and quite Eastern in style."

Talking of the past four years, Degyid said, "Training is hard,but I don't feel tired. The most important thing is that I like it.I have gotten through the hardest time."

Degyid said she had learned a lot when competing with models from the rest of China. She dreams of venturing from Tibet an going out to the rest of China and the world.

"It is a good chance to take part in such a large-scale competition. Although I lack expression skills, I have my own special Tibetan quality. I am not afraid of facing opponents. I amquite confident of myself."

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2002)

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