The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Student Artist Spotlight: Satuna Mowrin ‘24 rejects modeling stereotypes

Satuna Mowrin ’24 attempts to dismantle beauty standards in the modeling world. (Photo courtesy of Satuna Mowrin ’24)

In the span of just a few years, Satuna Mowrin ’24 has gone from posting self-designed photo shoots in her bedroom to modeling for small businesses and blazing a path for a more diverse modeling industry.

Mowrin has long had a passion for expressing herself through makeup and clothing. She has made it her mission to be part of the movement to see more people like herself in the modeling scene.

“I don’t think I necessarily fill the typical standard of a model, which is basically white, skinny and tall,” Mowrin said.

Despite these differences — or perhaps because of them — Mowrin uses her body as a way to express herself.

“I genuinely consider my face and my body a canvas,” she said.

Mowrin’s interest in the popular television show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” spurred her interest in the use of makeup as self-expression.

“Being a queer person myself, using my art to express myself and my clothes to express myself, drag queens are my biggest inspiration,” she said. “I even created an alter ego of myself that I often think about.”

When she started at Lafayette, she began doing her friends’ makeup for birthdays, formals and other special events, earning her the nickname “Satuna the Makeup Artist.” According to Mowrin, her friends and the Lafayette community have been her biggest supporters.

When COVID-19 hit, all she had was her own face as a canvas. Through practicing on herself, she gained the confidence to start doing shoots in her room and posting them on Instagram, which led to modeling opportunities.

“I really started getting into photo editing and creative directing a photo shoot for myself. So I would just shoot myself and I would post that on Instagram. Someone actually reached out to me that they want to do a virtual shoot,” she said. “That sort of gave me a kickstart to thinking, ‘Oh, I think I really enjoyed this,’ because I could incorporate my personal makeup look but someone else was also creative directing it. I started seeking out open calls and casting calls.”

While Mowrin has done open calls for larger companies looking for big groups of models, she says she prefers working with small businesses like clothing retailers C’est D and My Next Fit.

“[I] was so comfortable because [C’est D] being really size inclusive made me feel like, ‘Oh my god, yes, I belong here. I want to do this. [The owner of the brand] wants me here.’ Rather than going to an open casting call where maybe I’m not really wanted here,” she said.

Additionally, living in New York City, Mowrin has easy access to lots of creative people. She is involved in a group called the New York City Artists and Creatives, which she has collaborated with for shoots.

“There are also a bunch of South Asian models that I’ve found and I’ve stayed in touch with them. Some of them are also up and coming and they’ve also been very supportive in terms of helping me sort of break through and apply to different things,” she said.

For Mowrin, her South Asian identity makes it very intimidating to go to big casting calls.

“I really realized that as much as the modeling industry has been becoming more progressive, it’s not that inclusive yet. There’s still so much work that needs to be done. Being [in] the mid-plus-sized range, someone who’s not a white person … and not being tall, that has really worked against me,” she said. “You just need to work extra hard to get noticed compared to someone who does fit those boxes.”

Mowrin puts herself in uncomfortable situations in order to create space in the modeling world for herself and for others.

“I did a casting call where I had to walk down a runway and I think that was a really intimidating moment for me because I was standing and I just saw tall, skinny people,” she said. “I almost felt like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t belong here.’ But then I had to tell myself I’m doing this to get rid of that feeling. I want more people to feel like they do belong here because everyone is beautiful.”

Being a full-time student has affected her availability for shoots, but during the summer and after graduation, Mowrin plans to take the challenges head-on. She wants future models and even the people consuming this media to see themselves represented. Her goal is to make modeling “more raw and fresh and really portray the real you.”

You can keep up with Mowrin and follow along with her modeling journey through her Instagram, @satuna_.

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About the Contributor
McKenna Graf
McKenna Graf, Staff Culture Writer

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