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Shit Model Management t-shirt
Shit Model Management t-shirt, selling now to raise money for Black Lives Matter

Shit Model Management is shining a spotlight on fashion’s racism

The anonymous model behind the page is sharing stories of discrimination – and raising money for the NAACP

Since 2016, Instagram account Shit Model Management has been giving the modelling world – and its reputation of jet-setting glamour – a reality check. From ill-fated castings to ill-fitting shoes, the account usually chronicles the less than luxurious life of models off camera – but lately, it's turned its attention towards an even darker side of the industry. 

With models to sharing their experiences of racism and discrimination on the page’s story, including endless microaggressions, the inability of white hairstylists to style black hair (plus their frustration when tasked with doing it), and photographers asking for skin to be lightened in photoshop, it’s a bleak window into the experiences of models of colour and a reminder that there is much to be done in the industry when it comes to racism. 

We spoke to the anonymous model behind Shit Model Management about their decision to start sharing these stories – and raise money for Black Lives Matter while doing so. 

Why did you start your Instagram account? 

Shit Model Management: I decided to start Shit Model Management in April 2016. I was young, living in a model apartment with six girls from all over the world, stressed from castings and scared shitless of my agents. I wanted to create a space where I could vent and let out my frustrations about modelling, but anonymously so that it wouldn’t affect my work. I felt like the best way to do this was through humour, and it grew from there.

How has the industry – or conversations within the industry, at least – changed since you started it?

Shit Model Management: When I started SMM, it was a time where models feared to stand up against the abuse or hardships they were facing because they were afraid to lose their jobs. The difficulties models faced weren’t being talked about, period. Now, at least a conversation is happening, and that’s all I ever wanted. I’m happy to see that models are finding their strength, and the secrets are coming out. My hope is that it will be harder for people to get away with mistreating models now. Models have more confidence to speak up, and I’ve provided them with a platform where they can use their voices but still keep their identity protected. All I’m doing is being a catalyst for change and a voice for the models. I want agents and clients to think twice before they casually tear down models. I hope they’re scared to end up on Shit Model Management.

Have you experienced or witnessed racism while working as a model?

Shit Model Management: I have definitely been exposed to those situations; but rather than focus on myself, SMM is more about highlighting the experiences of my followers.

Why did you want to use your IG to platform some of the racist experiences of your fellow models?

Shit Model Management: Racism is being exposed all over the world right now, and it’s only right that I echo this step towards resolution on my own platform. I’m a voice for all models, and although that’s a huge responsibility, it’s also a great honour. I’ve built a strong relationship with the models that follow me, and they have always trusted me with their stories. I know that it is cathartic and healing in some ways for them to be able to release their experiences to a large platform of other people who understand and care. At the end of the day, I have no problem with naming racist clients, casting directors, or agencies. I support these models and I want them to know that no matter what, I will always believe them and be there for them.

Have any of them surprised you, or is this kind of explicit and implicit racism par for the course in modelling?

Shit Model Management: These claims continue to not only shock and surprise me, but also break my heart. For example, one really stood out to me. A male model said, “(I was the) only model that didn’t have help putting on (my) runway outfit. Make-up artist looked at me with so much disgust I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there.” It is not okay for crew members to shame models for the colour of their skin, and it happens way too often. I just want to say to the model who wrote that: I will continue fighting for you and you are the reason I do the work I do. 

“At the end of the day, I have no problem with naming racist clients, casting directors, or agencies. I support these models and I want them to know that no matter what, I will always believe them and be there for them” – Shit Model Management 

Based on the stories that have been shared, how do you think model agencies, magazines, shoot teams, and fashion brands should be looking at themselves in order to create an equal workplace?

Shit Model Management: It’s actually their responsibility to educate themselves on how to treat models appropriately, and to be held accountable for their actions. In the fashion industry, there is a lack of effort and respect when it comes to models of colour. Hairstylists don’t want to work with black hair. Models of colour are tokenised instead of treated equally. They are so often punished for their natural features and dark skin. I want agencies, casting directors, clients, and creatives to take a good look at themselves and ask themselves, is the way I treat models the way I would want my child treated? If it isn’t, make changes. 

Where did the idea for the t-shirt come from?  

Shit Model Management: A lot of my ideas come from my followers. One model messaged me and suggested I re-release the Shit Model t-shirt and donate the profit to a Black Lives Matter organisation. I loved the idea and was excited to move forward with it.

How much money have you raised so far? 

Shit Model Management: So far I’ve raised $1210.87, and the t-shirt company will be matching my donation! 


Donate to NAACP here