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Meet The Models Calling Out The Modelling Industry @shitmodelmgmt

Photographed by Nina Westervelt
For every Kendall, Gigi and Cara in the world, there’s a thousand models whose names you’ll never know. These are the women who work in an industry that affords them little by way of employment rights with no job security and no promise of work after they’ve “peaked” aged twenty-five. If you’re ‘just’ a model (i.e. not a mega-famous one with millions of followers on everything) things don’t look quite so fun behind the scenes.

It is this, and many other industry truths, that the anonymous fledgling Instagram account @shitmodelmgmt is calling out. Ranging from the hilarious to the downright depressing, their memes have struck a chord with fellow models as they share picture after picture documenting the reality of working for people who treat you – quite literally – like an inanimate clothes horse.

We’re so focused with the treatment of women at the beginning of the supply chain, that we often forget about the women at the other end of it. Yes, we're well acquainted with the “too skinny” problem – but what about models' rights as human beings to simple things that we take for granted, like being paid on time?

New laws have gone some way to combat this mistreatment. In New York, models under the age of 18 are now classified as child performers, offering them protection they previously did not have. In France, a new law bans the use of underweight models. And as of this year in California, a new bill protects models’ health as well as their workplace rights.

So it’s a start, but it’s certainly not enough, as the two models behind @shitmodelmgmt explain, every day, to their 66k (and counting) followers.

We caught up with the girls, who met each other living in a model apartment in New York, to find out the truth behind the memes, and if they’ll ever reveal their identities…

Hi ladies. You’re both highlighting a lot that’s unpleasant about the fashion industry. What needs to change in the way models are treated?
S & H: People need to realise that we, models, are humans. If they want a mannequin, then start using mannequins. Yes, we sign ourselves up for this job, but we should be able to rely on certain standards in our work environments. Basically, we don’t think it's okay for both clients and agencies to withhold information about our careers, pay us whenever they feel like it, make commitments they cannot keep, etc.

So you do the work, brands use your photos, and you still don’t get paid for months after…?
S&H: In some situations, we will not receive any payment for months and have to get advances from our agencies. So this creates a situation where we are paying our agencies to loan us money until we are paid for the work we did.

You say you want to quit in your profile, but obviously you wanted to model at the beginning. What changed?

S: I wanted to model because I felt that it finally made me beautiful. Growing up I had zero self-confidence. It’s strange because when I go back home I feel special, but when I am actually doing my job, I feel like I am just another pretty girl that stands in front of a camera and desperately tries to prove herself.

And do you really want to quit? Or do you just want modelling to be a better industry to work in?
H: If I'm being completely honest, I do want to quit. I'm always standing up for other people and for what I believe in, so it's difficult to work in an industry where I can't even stand up for myself. But I don't plan on quitting any time soon. I know that models have become influential figures and we truly have the power to make changes in the world. With so many followers and so many people listening, the amount of issues that you can make people aware of is incredible.

What are the best reactions you've had from other models who’ve seen your posts on Instagram?
H: My favourite thing is when people comment and say, "thank you so much for speaking up about this," or, "thank you so much for making this account." I think that the account is shocking for a lot of models because it is hard to talk about some of the things we go through. When you see a difficult, stressful, or even amazing moment that you have experienced in the form of a funny meme, it makes you feel good to know that someone else has experienced it too. We’re getting our frustrations out.

Would you ever identify yourselves? Do you think that could help your cause – or would it just ruin your careers?

S & H: For now, we are going to remain anonymous. I think that the account alone is helping models by just being a way for them to let out their frustrations and have a laugh. Revealing ourselves would definitely have a negative impact on our careers. It is likely that our agencies would be upset, and it's hard to know exactly how they would react, as well as how clients would react. For now, we're good with just being S & H and creating giraffe memes for the entire world to enjoy.