Our cover page is vintage glam with a hint of risqué, it is suggestive and stylish. Being devoid of make-up at our tête-à-tête did not diminish Shenalee’s stunning features. She’s got gumption and an attitude that reflects her strong sense of worth – Shenalee will not be pushed around and she has a powerful voice and is not afraid to use it.
A mover and shaker just shy of twenty-one, Shenalee is bound to stir a revolution sooner rather than later, fueled by the essence of what it takes to be a woman in the modern world. Not constrained by the status quo, Shenalee carves a niche in her own right and pivots between being a model, a stylist, a student and so on. She is never content with just one title, tag or box in life. Shenalee shares, that there are many other roles she would like to take on and fulfill in time. Her aspirations are serious and she is relentless in her pursuit to materialize them and shape her own reality.
She is a bubbly, vivacious person who has scaled unprecedented heights in a very short time span, in her modeling career- such as being represented by INEGA- the largest agency management business in India, walking for Pakistan Fashion Week and rubbing shoulders with the who’s-who of the South Asian fashion industry. Shenalee has a natural flair for modeling paired with an uber- chic sense of style, which allows her to take on the industry with unapologetic panache.
Flaws to Flawless
“In the beauty industry, women tend to go overboard when trying to achieve ‘perfection’, ignoring the basic fact that you first need to love yourself completely -flaws included. Thereafter, you need to identify how you can enhance and bring out your own unique sense of beauty and style. While it is good to get advice and seek counsel from professionals, magazines and celebrities etc., you also have to work on really getting to know yourself and discovering what works for you without allowing yourself to fall prey to every beauty product and treatment that promises to make you ‘happy’ by making you look a certain way or by getting you the attention and admiration you desire”. Whilst running her fingers through her signature platinum streak in her hair, Shenalee admitted that it has actually caused her many tears as a child but that now she proudly shows off.
She went on to explain that, “It is actually a birth mark. I used to beg my father to let me to colour it due to the intensity of the bullying and jeering I received for it, but my father insisted that I embrace it, providing encouragement and foresight only a father could give. Assuring me that one day it would be something that is celebrated instead of spurned.” Adding to that, she shared when asked about the scar on her face, “I was a naughty child and caused my parents a lot of anxiety. This scar was a result of me spitting on a boy who was my neighborhood playmate and then racing off on my bike and still looking back while moving, which resulted in me crashing into a post, and getting a deep gash on my face which required reconstructive surgery”. There were roars of laughter from yours truly as she then went on to relate her favourite anecdotes which revealed her intense love for life and how she embraces who she is. Shenalee also shared her passion for God, children, her career, hobbies and family.
Juggling the Multiple Wonders of Womanhood
“I understand that the career lifespan of a model is brief and I intend to make the most of the wonder years of my youth but my ultimate dream is to become a Child Psychologist and this is largely attributed to a discovery I made at Church camp when I was a teenager. I became a shadow teacher to a special needs child who broadened my vision to the uninhibited love required to enable a child to flourish and I believe I have it in me to do that”.
There is also Shenalee’s innate sense of style, which was initially considered a bit ‘whacky’ by her siblings but later flourished and her knack for putting eclectic looks together came to fruition and was cultivated on ground at photo shoots, shows and the company she works for. Like many people her age, Shenalee wants to leave behind a legacy which includes developing her own brand, this is yet to happen but knowing her dedication and determination, we are sure to see it materialize soon.
Respect Earned- Respect Gained – Changing Perceptions and age-old Myths
Shenalee states that -“Having an agent should be a prerequisite for professionalism for models who want to be successful. the agency sri lanka always ensures that my fellow colleagues and I have the consistent and informed support we need to excel.”
While she celebrates being who she is, Shenalee is also intentional about changing the perspective that local brands have and insists that they need to appreciate the beauty of a Sri Lankan woman and give prominence to local models irrespective of colour and showcase homegrown talent instead of merely paying a pittance for them and treating and paying foreign models more. This has been caused by perceptions and prejudices that have firmly seeped into the industry, resulting in discrimination and low self-esteem in younger generations. As Sri Lankans’ we need to walk the talk and be the change we want to see reflected in the youth of our country.
Shenalee is an inspiration to all young women who aspire to be in the modeling industry and who wish to take on any role in life. As the competitiveness and the fear of being judged by your appearance looms large, women constantly feel pressured and measured– this can be paralyzing when trying to move up the ladder of success, whatever field you are in. This has to change, the power has to be seized and shifted.
By Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne
Model: Shenalee Fernando, the agency sri lanka
Photographer: Christian Hutter
Make Up Artist: Viran Jose Peter of Arq Style House, @viranjpeter_makeup
Hair Stylist: Shane Perera of Arq Style House, @hairbae777
Stylist: Manasha Silva, @manashasilva, @twobrokestylists
Shoot Coordination/Production: the agency sri lanka, @theagencysrilanka
Venue: Galle Face Hotel, The Empress Suite, @gallefacehotel