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Meet a Detroit photographer and model trying to change stereotypes

'It doesn't matter what you wear on top of your head or not'

DETROIT – When you think of a cover model you might think bikinis, lots of skin and hair and makeup.

But one local woman believes it can be more than that and she's working to change the face of the industry. She’s changing the stereotype of a model and  is willing to go up against anyone trying to stop her from accomplishing her dreams.

For the past six years, Reetu Dave has been taking pictures all over Metro Detroit.

"Models are like a form of art to me,” said Dave. "Stick them on a foreground that's beautiful and there you go. You've created like a masterpiece!"

Today she's sky high on top of the Z parking garage in Downtown Detroit for a private photoshoot with an up-and coming-model.

"What it takes to be a model, you have to be able to do anything the photographer tells you to do,” explained Dave. “You can't be a diva, I guess you could say. They have to be comfortable in front of that camera."

"I don't like to call myself a model because I'm 4-foot-11," explained software tester, Ruma Styles, as she was getting ready for work Wednesday morning.

The 27-year-old loves testing software but her heart is in fashion.

"What I love about makeup is that your face is like a canvas,” said Styles. “You get to play with all these paint brushes that are laid out for you and all these paint basically."

Before Styles heads into work, she heads to Downtown Detroit, teaming up with Dave and modeling in front of the camera.

Does she want to be a model?

“I would love to be a -- it's so funny saying model,” laughed Styles. “I'm 4-foot -11, again. Yeah ... I would love to be a brand ambassador."

But even at just under 5 feet tall, the software tester isn't just any model. She was one of 10,000 who applied to become Miss Jet Set 2017 and land on the magazine's cover like Melania Trump and Charlize Theron in past issues. She got the e-mail she had made it into the competition.

"We made the semi-finals,” said Styles. “Top 60 international so we got there that's where I stopped. I couldn't make it from 4th place to 1st place in the semifinals. It was all bikini models by the way and I was the only one who was covered!"

Styles was the only model wearing a hijab, a veil or cloth worn by some Muslim women as a symbol of modesty. A competition like this would be frowned up and she didn't want to compromise her faith for her career.

"It comes down to just making sure you carry yourself in a modest aspect and hair beautifies you ten times more than with a hijab,” said Styles. "If you're wearing a hijab you can't be wearing a bikini with the hijab. So it doesn't work that way."

Even though she didn't win, Styles wants to be one of the few hijabi models and a brand ambassador.

How common is that?

“How common is that?” Dave replied. “It's not that common but it's becoming common especially in Michigan."

"It just made me want to keep pushing and that's the Detroit in me!" joked Styles.

"Let's talk about your parents,” said Cassimy. “Supportive? Not supportive?"

"They weren't supportive at all," said Styles. "They told me, they're like if you want to do this we can't have you here. I looked and my father and said 'Tell me this one more time and I will leave' and he said it out of anger so what I did that night was I booked a room at The Henry in Dearborn. So when I kept fighting for it that's when they were like alright she really wants this."

"What do you want to say to another young girl that wears a hijab and they have modeling aspirations?" asked Cassimy.

"I would say just start it. Go do it. Fight for what you want to do," said Styles.

"It doesn't matter what you wear on top of your head or not. We're all out there to show our style and fashion," said Dave.

Meanwhile, Styles continues to dream big.

"Hopefully one day be on the cover of Vogue!" she said.

Right now Styles is looking for brands to work with.

You can follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/rumastyles


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