Copy of Pojo 3
“I would put the grant towards creating a fully sustainable, zero-waste line of products designed for the kitchen

Phoebe Joseph

Age - 20
 New York, United States
@pojo
Phoebe Joseph
“I would put the grant towards creating a fully sustainable, zero-waste line of products designed for the kitchen

Scouted when she is was only in the eighth grade, Phoebe Joseph (aka Pojo) spent her early adolescence balancing a double life – attending school in South Orange, New Jersey then making her way to New York City to work as a model. At 16, she started an Instagram account, @models.that.eat, documenting her meals during fashion week. Eventually, the account expanded into a platform which aims to creates a safe space for models to discuss their relationships with food and body image. 

In Joseph’s self-produced docu-style video series Dine n Dash, models from all walks of life sit in their favourite restaurants around the world. As they share vegan meals, Pojo’s guests open up to her about everything from how they got their start as models to honest recollections of how past comments from casting directors, agents, and brands shaped the way they saw themselves. While the subject of food in the fashion industry has always been somewhat taboo, the series not only shines a light on issues regarding eating disorders but also represents a generation of models who are not afraid to use their voice to speak up about it.

Having debuted her first exhibition Food on A Model in Japan last year, Joseph is now planning to bring the show to different cities. “I hope to influence people to embrace food, their bodies, and their mental health over everything else,” Joseph said. “If we don’t have ourselves, we have nothing.”

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?

Phoebe Joseph: According to psychiatry studies, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. To many that I tell, this is surprising news, but what I find even more surprising is how glamorised and endorsed a fatal epidemic can be in the modelling industry. That’s why I will continue to be an advocate for NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association), as well as Model Alliance. These are two groups fighting tirelessly to change these issues, and I am constantly checking myself to make sure Models That Eat aligns with them.

What or who gives you hope and why?

Phoebe Joseph: Role models give me hope. Social media gives me hope. Food gives me hope. A part of the reason I’m so passionate about Models That Eat is because for the first time, at least in my career, I feel the power we have as a collective group of people. Models are constantly being reduced to their bodies, and how their bodies compare to others in this line of work, which definitely takes a toll on your self-esteem and community. It is clear to me that we hold the power to change what our audience sees and feels, through the media we create. If models can come together to create positive change, whether that is through body positivity, food positivity, or otherwise, we will see a significant shift in the industry’s subliminal issues. I know that we can do this together, we just need to believe in our abilities!

“Role models give me hope. Social media gives me hope. Food gives me hope” – Phoebe Joseph

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?

Phoebe Joseph: This epidemic has resulted in all of my production for Models That Eat to come to a halt. Since my main streams of income are modelling and video work and they both involve social contact, all of my jobs have been dropped, too. It’s definitely a scary time. With that being said, I know that I have to decide to be optimistic in order to stay calm. 

For me, that means finally tackling one of my biggest goals: a fully sustainable, zero-waste line of products designed for our time in the kitchen. I have been teaching myself to sew, after receiving boxes of old deadstock fabrics, using my late grandmother's sewing machine. My goal is to make kitchen towels, reusable napkins, washable paper towels, shopping bags, and aprons. I love that I can create something special to help support myself, as well as the planet, by using unique materials. I plan on continuing to create beautiful, zero-waste products, and then list them on my website for purchase. 

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Phoebe Joseph I would put it towards my product line. I still need to source more revived materials, print tags for each piece, get recycled/compostable packing for shipping, and fill any other gaps in the production process. This would be a huge help in bringing my line to life, and inspiring others to consider more sustainable options every day!

Beyond this, my biggest dream for Models That Eat is to get media like this in the hands of more people. I have always been a one woman show on the backend – filming my videos, recruiting models to interview, editing, everything. I fund this project with all of the money I make. Of course, I have no problem juggling that since this is my passion… but I know my big dream is to bring these conversations to the next level. I would love to create a pilot to pitch Models That Eat as a TV/streaming docuseries. I imagine it being a similar format to my videos – intimate conversations, at a table over food – but with higher production quality, a properly-paid team filming, and starring models that have the platform to change millions of lives. I can only imagine how a supermodel, eating food, and talking about their personal struggles on TV would help young people everywhere who feel alone. 

Habi Diallo

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