What It’s Truly Like to Be a Fashion Model

For decades, modeling was a silent profession, where women were supposed to be seen and never heard.


But not any longer. In interviews with The New York Times, young women discuss racism, sexual abuse and the fashion industry’s obsession with extreme youth (like feeling old at 25).

But in February, just as Paris Fashion Week began, a group of high-profile models — Jourdan Dunn, Edie Campbell, Leomie Anderson, Candice Swanepoel and Joan Smalls — voiced their support for James Scully, a casting director, who had taken to Instagram to condemn two colleagues, Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes, for keeping models in an unlit stairwell for several hours.

Thank you, James, speak that TRUTH!!!” Ms. Dunn wrote.


Precious Lee, age 28. Photo: Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times


A month later, models.com published results from a survey in which more than two dozen models discussed unprofessional working conditions, nonpayment and abuse in the industry. And in May an Instagram post by the model Ulrikke Hayer in which she accused a casting director for a Louis Vuitton cruise show of telling her to consume nothing but water for 24 hours, went viral. (The day after the water edict, she was informed that she would not walk in the show.)


Now models have social media platforms, so even if they’re not incredibly well known, they can still have a relatively big following and articulate their views in a way they weren’t able to do before,” said Francesca Granata, director of the master’s program in fashion studies at Parsons.


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Indeed, social media platforms have become part of their selling power, often included on their measurement cards. Many use these tools to express their belief that for all of its seeming glamour, the modeling industry remains overrun with problems that include labor exploitation, sexual harassment and body shaming.


Click here to read the experiences of women in different stages of their careers on the New York Times website


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