FOUR MASON STUDENTS EXPRESS THEIR STYLE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
By Angelique Arintok, Staff Writer
The George Mason campus is home to an incredibly diverse set of individuals, all of whom have their own voices and interests. Students are led to careers in medicine, engineering and politics just to name a few.
However, a common thread all students share is perhaps their avid use of modern technology. Living in a tech-savvy world influenced by social media has provided Mason students Amir Rachmat-Jones, Jay-r San Luis, Nicole Gordon and Senya Donkor a creative platform for their fashion and respective artistry.
Rachmat-Jones, a Global Affairs major at Mason, started modeling after a dance competition on the Disney Channel—landing small gigs as part of an agency thereafter.
Rachmat-Jones attributes his present-day involvement in fashion to his “unequivocal love for fashion and creative expression.”
The Mason campus has helped Rachmat-Jones develop another level of love for fashion and modeling, as he and his friends “first bonded through [their] love for fashion.” He said there are additionally “both mainstream and niche photographic locations on Mason’s campus,” including the exterior of Exploratory Hall and the art studios in the Art and Design Building.
Rachmat-Jones is often photographed with his close friend, Jay-r San Luis, an Engineering major.
San Luis does not call his hobby as “modeling,” but rather describes it a way to express fashion: “taking pictures in the clothes and pieces [he] puts together.” Much like Rachmat-Jones, San Luis thinks the Mason campus “gave [him] a lot more opportunity to connect with different people with the same passion.”
Additionally, working with photographers on campus is a gratifying experience for Rachmat-Jones and San Luis. They consider working on photoshoots, and collaborating with campus photographers “an on-going cycle of connection with all of these people.” The experience of being able to shoot with certain photographers has allowed them opportunities to not only show their style, but to share their passion for fashion with others.
Those who do not know San Luis or Rachmat-Jones personally may look at their Instagram photos, and correlate them with a sense of materialism and narcissism. However, these GMU students see modeling & posing for photos as both a creative and influential tool.
San Luis enjoys displaying his fashion as a means to reach the youth, telling them “how to build confidence and to be their own individual.” Rachmat-Jones similarly aims to “inspire others in their creativity and [to] be comfortable in their own skin.” As students, they encourage others of the same age to pursue modeling either as a freelancer or professional.
Rachmat-Jones considers San Luis to be a “trendsetter of a creative, multicultural generation” alongside another student and close friend Nicole Gordon, a Communication major at Mason. Gordon and San Luis inspire Rachmat-Jones through their style and their confidence in fashion.
Gordon is often seen wearing bright colors, glitter, and pops—whether it’d be for her clothing or makeup. Gordon, who grew up a small Virginia town called Suffolk, found her passion for modeling through a hometown consignment shop seeking runway models.
From there, Gordon has considered modeling a strong passion of hers. Over the years, she says she “began expanding [her] social media pages, and came into [her] own style.”
Much like San Luis and Rachmat-Jones, Gordon is thankful to the Mason campus for giving “[her] various opportunities to expand horizons across different photographers.” Gordon has taken up modeling to another scale since last year, being more pertinent about doing shoots in an effort to “establish [her] brand and goals.” Gordon’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts allow her to reach an audience beyond the Mason campus—allowing them an easier and more accessible platform to view her fashion photographs.
Nicole Gordon owns a great deal of passion for modeling as much as other George Mason students like Senya Donkor, an Integrative Studies major at Mason.
Donkor enjoys the rich diversity of campus life, saying that it has “allowed for [her] to have the perspective of being more a team player and less of an individual.” Through networking as a model, Donkor made her way to the cover of a GMU Student Media publication called Outlier.
Donkor considers modeling an “artistic world” much like the previously mentioned students; it is a mechanism for meeting “creatives such as photographers, designers, stylists, [and] makeup artists.” To Donkor, this craft is beyond surface-level. She ultimately, “want[s] models to be seen though a different light.”
In addition to using fashion modeling as inspiration for others, Gordon wishes to “use modeling as a platform for raising awareness about social injustice and inequality.” Similarly, Donkor desires to “allow for young girls from all parts of the world to be able to pursue an education as models.”
Both students are eager for change and modification to current social structures. Even though they are commonly labeled as models, their goals reach beyond fashion. Gordon and Donkor, in particular, are interested in fracturing social issues within the beauty industry, education system, and career perceptions.
These four Mason students have their own followings on social media & a strong passion for modeling, using it respectively as an outlet to showcase their style and creativity. An underlying hope for Gordon, San Luis, Rachmat-Jones, and Donkor is an ability to use their passions with purpose— a purpose that will break the standards of social norms, inviting the youth to be more expressive and to fully embrace their creative tendencies.
Photos Courtesy of Nicole Gordon, Jay-R San Luis, and Amir Rachmat-Jones