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Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams SS17Photography Anabel Navarro

More models come forward with stories of mistreatment

Fernanda Ly and model-turned-photographer Cailin Hill Araki share their own testimonies shining a light on how badly models can be treated in the industry

Just last month, casting agent James Scully took to Instagram to expose the mistreatment of models by now-ex Balenciaga casting agents Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes, but it seems this kind of behaviour is widespread, and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Now, in a report posted to models.com, more models – including everyone’s pink-haired favourite, Fernanda Ly, and model-turned-photographer Cailin Hill Araki – are coming out with their stories of how they’ve been treated in the industry. 

Walking for Louis Vuitton, Rihanna and Dior this season alone, Ly is one of the bigger names to come out of the modelling industry in recent times – but that doesn’t mean it’s always plain sailing. Though it might not be every model’s reality, she certainly relates to a lot of the posts on @shitmodelmanagement’s Instagram page. 

“There are too many who take advantage of a model’s young age,” Ly says, recalling, “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.” It’s a memory, made at a young, impressionable age, that still haunts her to this day: “Even now, I can remember the disgusting feel of this man hand’s tracing my body.”

Unfortunately, it’s not only sexual exploitation they are exposed to. Cailin Hill Araki, who’s been proudly documenting her life post-modelling on the Instagram account, @modelburnbook, is also concerned by the growing number of street-cast models not getting what they’re worth. Don’t get her wrong, she’s all for the diversification of faces in the industry, but “(she) can’t help but think brands are profiting off these new crops of models unfairly: with zero experience in the fashion industry and no agency behind them, these girls don’t know their own value.” “We want fashion to be more inclusive,” Hill Araki goes on, “but hitting up a kid on Instagram and offering a couple instead of payment is fucking BS.”

This isn’t the only horror story about money, though – Fernanda Ly also mentions that “there are models who (are) trapped in very long, slave-like contract periods with very little to show for it.” So many people she knows “receive almost no money after tax, agency commission and conversion rates: these girls were fed dreams that instead become nightmares as agency debt piled up”. Eventually, many models are the ones who foot the bill for the cost of flights, accommodation and food – decisions that are often made without consulting the model first, so they have no say in where they can save money. 

Scully’s exposure did a lot for helping amplify these issues, but there’s still a long way to go, as the decision of many of these models to remain anonymous, for fear of sabotaging their career reporting these incidents openly, proves. One such anonymous testimonial writes: “When it all comes down to it, we would never dare to speak up about anything because of the risk of losing future job opportunities,” – having a reputation for “being someone ‘hard to work with’ may cost you a job,” Ly agrees, too. “That is why James Scully’s name-dropping was such a big thing,” the anonymous writer continues, adding though that “it’s not sustainable to have a single spokesperson.” Hopefully, this increased visibility of model mistreatment will help more people come forward in the future.  

Head here to read the full models.com survey.