My Underwater World

Take a journey with me underwater and get a glimpse into what it is like to be an underwater model…

All photos by Gabriela Slegrova Solms.


It’s quiet down there. But not in the way you might think.  It’s quiet in sound, movement and feeling, underwater.

I take a deep breath in. I exhale. And I slowly allow myself to sink down underwater. As precious air escapes my lungs, quiet bubbles rise from my lips. With practiced effort I get myself to the secret place – floating just below the surface, not sinking down to the depths nor rising up above. With eyes closed, I try to imagine where I am in space. Once I get to that special place, I am overcome by a dreamlike state.

I transform. My hair becomes like soft silk and shines the colour of a dark ruby. My clothes flow and come alive like I am in a world where no gravity exists. My skin glows and all imperfections vanish.

It is so quiet as sounds from the dry land do not often journey down to this underwater wonderland. Only the echoes of my own thoughts surround me.  I hear ricochets of the photographer’s voice in my head, telling me to smile and to relax. She tells me to stay in that special place just below the surface, and to look up at the light. I think about what I must look like behind the lens. I think a million more thoughts. I think thoughts of different worlds, thoughtless thoughts and thoughts instructing me to be at peace.  I then try to quiet my thoughts and embrace the comforting silence around me.

I gently move as I float but there is no real space around me or movement within me, for it is all a dream. It is a dream where everything moves in slow-motion. It is a longing to breathe underwater and stay here in this place of no time or space. It is the knowing that there is a place where I can be all alone but not alone all at the same time. As I gracefully move my body and sway my hair I feel the water’s substance embracing me. I feel the weight of the water. I carefully open my eyes, though I do not see clearly. I look up to the hazy surface of the water and see the sun playing in the sky. For a moment I am reminded that there is an outside world beyond this dream.

My feelings are quietened too. Emotions are blurry, like the flickers of the sun’s light piercing through the delicate surface. The light trickles down and all together all sensations are calmed. Like the gentlest wave washing over me, the water soothes my mind. The dream becomes a deeper sleep. I can only describe this feeling as eternity, though it lasts but a few seconds.

I could stay there forever.

But less than a minute later, I rise to the surface; gasping for air, arms flailing and feet splashing. Like a fish out of water. I open my eyes and cough and try to compose the Loch ness Monster that is me. I unsuccessfully wipe the knotted hair that is covering my face. I wipe my eyes and my burning, running nose. I get some feedback and new instruction from the photographer. The background behind me is fixed into place.  I rearrange the dress that is clinging onto my legs and wrapped up around my feet like a mermaid’s tail.

I take a deep breath in. I exhale. And I do it all over again.



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