Aboriginal teen Maminydjama Maymuru makes history for reaching Miss World Australia Finals

Hailing from a far-flung township, Maymuru has been dubbed Australia's first Aboriginal model 

Maya Oppenheim
Wednesday 01 June 2016 11:10
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Maymuru will participate in the Miss World Australia contest in July after being selected to represent NT, a region where 30 per cent of the population is aboriginal
Maymuru will participate in the Miss World Australia contest in July after being selected to represent NT, a region where 30 per cent of the population is aboriginal

Aboriginal people might be indigenous to Australia but they are vastly underrepresented in all areas of Australian society.

Maminydjama Maymuru, however, is changing this. The Aboriginal teenager is from a remote outback township and has become the first indigenous model to represent the Northern Territory in Australia’s Miss World competition.

Like many models, the 19-year-old whose model name is “Magnolia”, was scouted in the least glamorous and most mundane of circumstances: withdrawing money from a cash machine. To begin with, Maymuru rejected the impromptu offer to walk in a forthcoming fashion show because she was busy focusing on school and completing her secondary school exams.

A year later the same scout saw her at a supermarket and she decided to give modelling a go.

“The main reason why I agreed to do it is that I don't want to do it just for myself,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I want to do it for young people all over Australia. That means black or white. I grew up both ways, the Yolngu way, and the Balanda way, which is the white man's way, the western way.”

Maymuru might have been dubbed Australia’s first Aboriginal supermodel but she has found adapting to the fashion industry something of a cultural shock to the system. “When I go back home I go hunting and camping with my dad, the usual stuff,” she said. “When I come to Darwin I go into hair salons and photos shoots and it’s totally different.”

Maymuru, who grew up in the far-flung rural community of Yirrkala, explains that she took up modelling because she was eager for young Indigenous girls to see themselves properly represented in wider society. Maymuru will participate in the Miss World Australia contest in July after being selected to represent NT, a region where 30 per cent of the population is Aboriginal.

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