One-Hit Wonder: Sonia Dara, 2010

2010 Rookie Week continues with one of the rookies who didn’t return: the beautiful Sonia Dara.I would have liked to have seen Sonia again. Look at that slender, taffy-like body.

And I believe she is the only Indian-American model ever to appear in the swimsuit issue. I do wonder if it’s a celebration of her culture or an exercise in stereotyping—or both—that she shot in India.That dilemma doesn’t come into play when Daniella shoots in Brazil, or Bar shoots in Israel, or Elle shoots in Australia, or Tori shoots in Hawaii.

But Sonia is the least Caucasian model on that list, and she found herself surrounded by women in headscarves. It seems like it might easily drift into the realm of “othering.” (More on that sometime in the near future… I’m reading a book that I plan to start discussing here soon.)It’s a dilemma she herself seems to recognize, according to this interview in the Wall Street Journal:

During your shoot in Rajasthan, you posed with some local women who cover their heads, as is local tradition. Did you feel it made them uncomfortable to pose with you in a bikini?

To be completely honest, I was the one who felt the most uneasy because I thought I was putting the women in a potentially uncomfortable situation. At first glance, the concept of a Hindu girl in Sports Illustrated might seem contradictory. With that in mind, I posed as elegantly as possible, in order to never undermine my Hindu upbringing. I really hope this is made clear in my photos.

(Also of note in that interview: She was in pre-med at Harvard, and switched to econ? I love seeing proof that models aren’t ditzes.)

In any case, maybe she’s not gone forever. I’d like to see her again, maybe in some run-of-the-mill Caribbean beach shots, to prove that she wasn’t just there to add some local exoticness.
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