Tattooed Coffs model challenges fashion industry norms

'You hardly ever see people who look like me on the runway,” Coffs Coast model Rhianon Lee said.
"You hardly ever see people who look like me on the runway,” Coffs Coast model Rhianon Lee said. Heidi Bell Photography

SHE had a cheeky first taste of ink at 16 with a fake I.D, but now Rhianon Lee is on a mission to challenge the status quo and become a pioneer for tattooed models on the runaway.

She describes her look as natural, raw and edgy, and the Coffs Coast model's body has been a canvas for more than 75 hours of tattoo artwork. All of her tattoos have been designed by her and have a personal meaning.

"You hardly ever see people who look like me on the runway,” Rhianon said.

"I want to be a positive role model for others who have experienced discrimination in the fashion industry. There are so many inspiring models who have faced discrimination coming to the forefront of the fashion industry.”

The model has black and white tattoos covering her legs, and some on her ribs, stomach, lower arm, fingers and even her ear.

Rhianon originally began modelling as a way to boost her confidence and self-esteem.

"It really was just for me to gain confidence at the start, but then I started really enjoying getting dressed up, putting make-up on and that sort of thing.

"I'd have the Rhianon who goes to work everyday but then with these photo shoots I could be whoever I wanted.”

Rhianon, who has an extensive career backing her up, is jumping back into the modelling game after taking a few years off to become a mum.

In 2014 Rhianon was named Miss Rally Australia, where she was head of the promo team for the event which was viewed by more than 60 million people worldwide.

In 2015 she was a runner-up at in the Miss Surf-Ink competition held as part of the popular tattoo convention of the same name.

Then in 2016, Rhianon made it through the finals of Miss Ink Australia. This year she was featured in Inked Magazine, and had a 6-page spread with Dark Arts Coffee Academy as the backdrop in Nimbin Hills Magazine.

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