My dream is to walk for Chanel, Victoria Secret - Iman Raheem | Sunday Observer

My dream is to walk for Chanel, Victoria Secret - Iman Raheem

After achieving triple glory, glamour and glitz, at the tender age of 19, Iman Raheem, strongly feels it has helped the ‘Miss Photogenic 2019’ (one of the three awards) in her to progress from nobody-to-somebody.

“A-year-ago, basically, I was nobody. Today, I am somebody. Today, I’m somewhat closer to achieving my dreams, ” she said in conversation with the Youth Observer, donned in a white short-blouse and maroon long skirt.

Raheem, not only won the hearts and minds of all on December 21, last year, at the Mister and Miss Sri Lanka contest, but clinched the ‘Miss Sri Lanka for ‘Miss Planet International 2020’, and ended up as ‘1st runner-up for the top model for Sri Lanka’ The crown, sash and titles, have placed her firmly on track to her ultimate dream of gracing the Miss Universe stage.

As anyone on the road to win awards and accolades, she too, had to face certain adverse factors, including a bit from her religion, en-route to her triple triumph.

It was a delightful December for her, winning more than one, as one of the youngest contestants.

“I was one of the youngest. The other contestants were over 25.”

Hailing from a fashion-backed family, passion-struck and driven by the desire to grow the fashion family tree, she ventured into her dream.

“I kind of stepped out on my own. I’m self-sufficient, right now, and, I have been for the past year. I pay my own bills, for my own education, everything. All because, I wanted to pursue the dream I had since I was a kid. That is to be someone in the fashion industry. I don’t want to stop here, stop just in Sri Lanka,” she said.

Raheem, the middle-child in her family, was fascinated, excited and impressed by parents, who are already in the industry. Her father, a hairdresser, and mother, a former model, had provoked the passion for fashion in her.

That had prompted and persuaded her to follow-suit on the lines of the family in the fashion industry.

Turning 20 in a few months, she has already set her sights in a big way.

“One day, my dream is to, walk for Chanel, walk for Victoria Secret. That is my ultimate destination. This is laying the foundation for me, I would say, in exposure.”

On her road to name and fame, she had to overcome unconventional setbacks for still a teenager. However, all those stumbling blocks have been compensated by the three titles she has achieved, today.

“Initially, yes,” she said, in response as to whether she faced criticism for setting out on unconventional lines, with her religion.

In the midst of all this, she was cut-off from her family solely for the criticism, and it did hit her hard and break her down due to lack of support. She only continued to believe in her and proceed.

“When I stepped out and started doing what I’m doing, I was not and is still not accepted by many. Because, I wouldn’t say it’s correct in line with my religion, but I’m a strong believer in what I think is right and what I want in life. So, I don’t think it affects me. Obviously, they believed what I did was wrong. We all believe in different things, right? Keeping that fact in mind, I’m not saying I’m entirely correct. I was someone who used to practise my religion. I do, today too,” Raheem explained.

“Definitely, the joy took only a short period to snap out of the sorrow, because, I feel that is what helped me get this far. If I had wallowed in my sorrow I wouldn’t have got here. Every time, I kept breaking down, I kept reminding me why I started this,” Raheem reflected.

Currently reading for her second-year in Higher National Diploma in Business Management at BMS, she is also a social media influencer that she enjoys as a hobby. Her profile keeps extending with her starring in commercials, another passion of hers.

Raheem is set to embark on another chapter, entering into the music field. She anticipates a lot of work, including vocal training and whatnot.

Criticism had not spared her in that, too. But, Raheem simply rubbished it and continued with her work. She’s working towards becoming herself.

“That is what I strive for. I’m not saying girls in my community should breakaway and be like me. But, don’t settle for something simple. Don’t just be ordinary. There are girls, who are capable of amazing things, but they stop, because they think this is it, drawing the lines.”

She has also taken a firm stand that she won’t forget her beginning.

“I believe, we should not forget, who we are even with all the glamour and glitz,”

What is Ms Planet?

Ms Planet International is unlike any other pageant, she said.

“When you say Ms Planet, you would think, it has something to do with conservation. But, it’s more than that. It comprises eradication of poverty, spreading and availability of education and women’s rights. Also, it deals with the environment and the planet. It’s more humane and conserving the planet, both. It’s not just one thing,” she explained.

Service to Sri Lanka? “As an island, we face certain crises too. But, I’m working on certain projects, now. I’m part of marine life conservation, who organizes beach clean-ups.

Also, one-stage official, which helps children. I also work with certain brands; Eco-kade (shop) to help promote food that are good for the environment and it’s basically for awareness,”

She will be taking wings to Cambodia, in May, this year, to represent Sri Lanka, at Miss Planet International, which is a lot of responsibility at her age, she says, looking ahead.

“Hopefully, this tiny island of Lanka can make a difference and make the globe aware,”