Jeni Assandey (29) works in digital advertising. She is Miss Bikini Ireland and has degrees in Spanish and French, Chinese and international business. Born in the Ivory Coast, she moved to Ireland when she was 16. She lives in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock
My day starts at 6am. Four days a week, I go to the gym. I live in Grand Canal Dock and the gym is right across from me. In the mornings, I think, ‘Come on, just do it’. For me, it’s all about mental strength. That’s the key thing.
I live with a good friend, Sarah. She is French. In the apartment, we speak French all the time. I was born in the Ivory Coast, and I lived there until I was 16. My mam is from west Cork. She went to work as a midwife on the Ivory Coast with her sister, and that’s where she met my dad. If I can get a husband like my dad, I’d be sorted. I’ll have to go to Coppers or somewhere. I’m extremely ambitious. Anything I do, I do 100pc. I think that’s why I’m single. I just get really intense about everything.
In the gym, I train on my own. I do a lot of cardio because I like to keep slim on my abs, and then I do some weights. The gym is open 24 hours. There have been times when I’ve gone at 11pm. It’s so handy. When I work out, I’m so focussed that I don’t even see guys. Usually, I don’t check them out, but there’s a cute guy there, and he can definitely call me. The gym is my haven. Going there has helped me get through some bumpy times. When I come out, I always feel so much better and so much stronger. I’ve been working out for years, long before I won Miss Bikini Ireland.
After the gym, I have a juice with carrot, ginger, cucumber and carrot. I make it myself. I check my emails because, being in advertising, you’re on call 24/7. Then I have a shower and get ready. I walk into work in the city centre. I work in digital advertising. I really enjoy it, especially the challenges that come with it. I deal a lot with coding and Java and video pulldowns. It’s always moving and you’re constantly pushing yourself. I love it.
When I get into work, I’ll have another breakfast. I eat every three hours. I love my food. A lot of models starve themselves, but that’s not the way to go. I enjoy my food, and I have a cheat day every week. My favourite thing right now is kebab pizza. It’s divine. I work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
At lunchtime, I often go for a Chinese lesson. There is a school just around the corner from work. It’s a one-to-one class, and I do two hours a week. I have a degree in Chinese and international business. I want to keep up my Chinese. I lived in Asia for two years, and I loved it. But I came back to Ireland when my dad had a stroke. I just wanted to be at home. He’s much better now, thank god.
Languages are so important to me. I think they come easily to me because I grew up bilingual — French and English. My first degree was in French and Spanish. I have a Spanish friend and we speak a lot in Spanish. At the moment, I’m not using my languages as much I’d like to, but I know that I will, some day. They are part of my skill set. I lived in Barcelona for a year. While there, I did a little bit of modelling for the first time. I’d always wanted to try it.
People don’t realise that you have to be so strong to be a model. It’s not just about looks. It’s about knowing exactly what you want, and being able to take it when people say things against you. You are auditioning all the time for work, and to cope with that, you have to have great mental strength. When I was on holidays in Mexico, a guy came up to me and offered to take some photos. They turned out really well. I don’t know if it was because of the sun or the beach, but they were really good shots. I put them on my Instagram page and Miss Bikini Ireland started following me. To be honest, up until then, I didn’t even know that the competition existed. I entered it, and three months later, I won.
The weird thing is that I had never posted a picture of myself in a bikini before. But it’s not just about being in a bikini. It’s so much deeper than that. It represents all the work I’ve done on myself from the inside-out. I’m standing here, saying, ‘Here I am, this fierce woman, standing tall’. I’ve been through so much, but here I am. It takes a certain calibre to do that, because you can’t hide anything. In the competition, there were a lot of 18-year-olds, but I’m 29. I want to be a role model for other women. It’s not too late to do anything.
So many of my friends give up. When they hit 29, they settle and they grab any guy. I’ve been single for three years, and I’m proud of that. I was seeing a guy, but it wasn’t going smoothly. I couldn’t afford any emotional distress, so I had to lose him. I have shit to do, and I can’t be emotionally distraught from a guy. You have to protect your empire.
After work, I might do a photoshoot. At weekends, I’ll go out with my friends and just let loose. I love to dance. I could have fun in the middle of a field. It’s a relief that I don’t go on Tinder [the dating app] any more. I’m still dating and meeting nice guys, but it’s happening naturally. Right now, I’m so busy enjoying all the opportunities which have come from Miss Bikini Ireland. I’m just back from the Dominican Republic as part of the competition.
I try to be in bed by 10.30pm. I love reading. My favourite book is
by Paulo Coelho. I believe in God, but I’m not religious. I don’t believe in rules and regulations, but I believe in love and loving people and giving positivity. I used to read more, but now social media takes up a lot of my time. Since I won the competition, I have a fan base, so I put up photos on Instagram, to keep them up to date. You’re showing a piece of your life.
Before I go to bed, I wash my face and put on Creme de la Mer. Someone once told me, ‘Don’t waste money on clothes — focus on your skin, because you’ll wear that forever.’ Maybe that’s why I don’t have wrinkles.
Gratitude is a big thing for me. As I go to sleep, I thank God for my life. I’m very happy. And I’m so grateful for all the opportunities from Miss Bikini Ireland. It’s so much more than a competition.
It wasn’t going smoothly, so I had to lose him. I can’t be emotionally distraught from a guy. I’ve got sh*t to do
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