Everyone knows stories of students who also have a (top) sporting career alongside their studies. Training rather than lying in bed and studying instead of drinking beer. But athletes aren’t the only students with other priorities than passing their next exam.
Moo Miero and Elize de Jong earn lots of Air Miles on their way to new modelling jobs, beauty pageants and photo shoots. One moment they are students mingling with other students, the next they are in a totally different world, with totally different people, needs and expectations. How do they cope with these contradictions? And wouldn’t it be better to choose one of the two lives?
Moo: “After secondary school, I’d had enough of the Netherlands and went to Bali. I lived there among the locals, and had an amazing time. But then the money dried up. At that point, a friend asked me if I’d like to fly to Jakarta for a photo shoot. And that was the start of my modelling career. Over the next two years, I was able to live in Southeast Asia and travel from the money I earned from modelling. Nice hotels, crazy parties – things that an eighteen year old girl can’t normally afford.”
Elize: “As a student, I’ve always had a job in the port, as ‘radio operator shore’ at the ECT container terminal, a man’s world in all respects. I instruct the crane operator about what is in the containers and their destinations – great fun. In 2015 – I’d just come to the university – I came across the ‘Miss Beauty South Holland’ beauty pageant. That’d be a laugh, I thought. So I entered – and thought nothing more about it. Except I won, and since then, things have snowballed: I’m now entering for international beauty pageants. Last year, for example, I joined the ‘Miss Global Beauty Queen Korea’ in South Korea.”
Moo: “I discovered that it wasn’t so much modelling that I dreamed of, but more the lifestyle. And yet – however strange this sounds to the outside world – it got a bit boring. I wanted to use my brain more, wanted to learn something new, and it didn’t really matter what. When I was back in the Netherlands on holiday, I decided to enrol for a law degree. I’m now starting my master in Information law, the creative side of law.”
Elize: “Above all, studying is a sensible choice. And being sensible is something I try to be. Because once you’re over 26, your modelling career usually finishes. But for now I have a whole world besides studying, as well as a life besides modelling. I like that, because there’s so much more to life than just studying or just posing for photos. I find my fellow students are often only concerned with going out. They have a much more carefree life and don’t understand that there are also lots of other things.”
The combination of two worlds
Elize: “Combining studying and modelling is pretty hard. There’s not much support from the university. Study advisors tend to like what I do, but that’s it. That’s why I often feel that I’m missing out in both worlds. I miss exams because of the beauty pageants, and sometimes I may follow up a night working on the crane with a photo shoot. And that’s not good either.”
Moo: “People from the modelling world don’t always understand why I went back to studying. I always try to explain that it’s really nice to learn things. Sometimes you can’t avoid misconceptions: in the modelling world, I’ve often been spoken to as if I was stupid. But it’s no use trying to explain; you only make life more difficult. And at the university, they often don’t understand the modelling world either, although reactions are usually positive.”
Moo: “It’s particularly annoying when people think that it all just fell into my lap. That’s the most common reaction I hear from fellow students. In fact, I’ve worked really hard, got my grades and at the same time had another life with its own commitments. And yes, sometimes it’s just about my appearance. But it involves much more than just parading in a bikini. Although there are always people who think that way.”
Elize: “Modelling competitions are no longer the cattle markets they probably used to be. It’s really not all about standing in your bikini appealing for world peace. During international competitions, you also talk to the local population or you visit development projects. So it’s much more about content and what you’ve got to say, but not everyone realises that. That’s why I don’t always immediately tell other students that I do modelling work. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it; in fact I’m very proud of what I do.”
Moo: “Over the past three years, I’ve really only worked and studied – not very much else. That doesn’t matter, although it’s obviously a pity that I haven’t had such a good social life as the people around me. I’ve clearly chosen to focus on these two careers and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I want to complete a master, continue modelling and then start my own business.”
Elize: “To be honest, I do regret how I’ve approached it. Looking back, after getting my propaedeutic diploma, I should have focused on my modelling career for a few years and then completed my studies without the stress. But I thought: I’ve got a brain, so I must use it. Now I seem to miss out in both worlds. I’m not sure what to do now; perhaps I still need to make a choice.”
Moo Miero (23) completed her bachelor in Law. She started modelling at the age of ten and appeared in several commercials and TV programmes as a child. She wrote a monthly column for Erasmus Magazine.
Elize de Jong (22) is in the second year of the Law programme. Her modelling career started two years ago, when she became ‘Miss Beauty South Holland’. Since then, she’s regularly ended up in the top five of other (inter)national competitions. She also works at a container terminal in the port of Rotterdam.