You may recognize the names of Jourdan Dunn, Edie Campbell, Leomie Anderson, Candice Swanepoel, and Joan Smalls – or perhaps, you’ve heard of them on Instagram. Today, these women have more influence than any models before them due to their large online followings.
In February, during Paris Fashion Week, these models took to the web to raise their voices and show support for James Scully, a casting director who shed some light on the harsh treatment of women in the fashion industry.
On his Instagram, Scully chastised two of his colleagues, Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes. The two allegedly kept some of their models in an unlit stairwell for hours on end, as if they were objects or props for the show and not human women.
“Thank you James, speak that TRUTH!!!” Dunn wrote.
This kind of treatment is not an isolated incident. Shortly after Scully’s outburst, Models.com posted survey results on their website, after posing a simple question: “How do you, the model, wish to be treated?” The survey received countless responses from models who all echoed similar themes. Many models felt afraid to speak out on any other platform.
On their site, Models.com states, “Regardless of who’s on the right side, the sad truth is models, more than others, censor themselves in fear of losing critical jobs. As a result social media has become their soapbox, but many are still reluctant to voice their own frustrations.”
Below are some of the messages that they received.
One anonymous contributor says, “We have to call on this system to change. We need diversity; all bodies, differently abled, shaped, coloured, sized, gendered and aged. Diversity is so important. Representation is so important.”
Another anonymous contributor similarly says, “I think a lot of models at the notoriously difficult agencies would agree with me when I say that fear is a huge motivation when it comes to how things work. As much as I have tried, I have never felt like I could demand respect out of fear of being demeaned and my worth being questioned.”
Fernanda Ly writes, “I was once shooting a lookbook where the stylist, helping me dress, used this chance to feel my body up much more than necessary and continued to do so throughout the entire shoot. Countless times I have had to undress in undesirable public situations, but even now I can remember the disgusting feel of this man’s hands tracing my body.”
Another anonymous contributor says, “For the first big show I walked, I waited about 17 hours for the fitting.”
Margherita Tondelli writes, “I feel like all the respect you receive depends on the quality of the jobs you book, but I guess that’s quite common in the world of work. What is not that common in the real world is that your career totally depends on your agency and casting directors, you can do your best to be ready for big opportunities, but you need to be lucky.”
These women are smart, beautiful, and talented, yet they endure unfair wages, ridiculous hours, and body-shaming, all for a business that treats them like cash-cows. This doesn’t mean that every agency or designer is like this, but if this many women are raising their voices, then clearly, something needs to change.
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