Shi Xiaomiao from Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, is a professional bra and bikini model for online shops. When this photographer recently met Shi at a studio in suburban Shanghai, she was busy applying makeup and changing outfits. According to Shi, her workday usually begins with posing in several pairs of underwear. "I pose in four positions for every pair of undergarments, namely front, back, sitting and standing," Shi said. After one setting, she moves to the next prepared backdrop in the studio. Shoots usually last up to eight hours. During this time, Shi will also inspect her own photos and communicate with the photographer about which pics she likes and dislikes. "I know exactly what kind of poses and lighting make me look best," Shi said confidently.
Shi used to work for a foreign trade company in Beijing scouting for models and photographers and running errands for them. She only earned between 2,000 yuan ($290.12) and 3,000 yuan at the time. Tired of such trivial work and meager income, she thought about changing her profession.
"If these girls can be models, why can't I?" Shi realized one day. "Those models are beautiful. But I think I'm also very pretty."
At first, she thought being a bra model was an easy job: just take off her clothes and reveal her body to the camera. But the more shoots she did, the more arduous and grueling she found out it was.
"Since you are only wearing a pair of underwear and have no other props, you need to have some know-how about modeling and even acting if you want to be really professional and successful," Shi explained.
She attends theatrical productions and studies acting techniques when she has time. "As long as I can master basic acting skills, I'm capable of dealing with all situations in a shoot," Shi added.
Big boob fantasy
She is quite proud of her natural 75B-cup bust, although to many men who are used to seeing models with surgically enhanced bosoms Shi's may not seem so large. "To me, big boobs are really just a man's fantasy," Shi said.
She noted that if a clothing brand or online shop owner requests a model with big boobs, then the model needs to be cautious going in, as "this kind of requirement is usually associated with illegitimate photo projects."
"Nowadays, many brands and shops actually prefer bikini models with small boobs, as natural-looking models are usually complemented with good dispositions," Shi said.
When asked about her future plans, Shi said that she'll try to stay in this business for as long as she can. "Even if I am getting old, I could still be a model for brands that specialize in manufacturing clothes for the elderly."
Although Shi's salary is much higher than what she used to earn, she feels that she deserves it, as being an underwear model is extremely physically and mentally demanding. She also must travel frequently from city to city for different shoots and must always come up with new poses in order to follow the latest glamour trends. "But whenever I see the beautiful me in these photos, I know all my efforts are worthwhile," Shi said.
(From top) Shi Xiaomiao's workday usually begins with posing in several pairs of underwear. After one setting, she moves to the next. Shoots usually last up to eight hours. Shi also inspects her own photos to communicate which pics she likes and dislikes. She is proud of her bust despite the popularity of surgically enhanced bosoms. Shi said that if a shop owner requests a model with big boobs, then the model should be cautious. When asked about her future, Shi said she hopes to stay in the modeling business for as long as she can. Photos: CFP