By Jenni Sellan
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better”. Anne Lamott
The headliner to James Scully’s unapologetic, courageous and audacious instagram (surely to become infamous) post, which might just have started a movement that has the potential to shake the fashion industry back into shape.
Just 3 months after revealing the state of his beloved industry at ‘The Business of Fashions’ Voices conference; true to his word, James Scully has boldly stepped out as an advocate and voice for those who have been to date, afraid to use their own; to willingly name and shame those refusing to change their behaviour. The Provocateur? Paris Fashion Week. The lid has been lifted.
From Castings within which over 150 girls were allegedly shut in a stairwell for over 3 hours, to mandates from major fashion houses advising agencies not to cast women of ‘colour’, and models under the age of 15 being snuck into Paris, Scully called it out; and with more than 9000 likes and 1300 comments in response to his post alone (the vast majority, models, sending gestures of thanks) countless shares, and a plea to others to share their experiences, this issue has finally gained it’s rightful place; In the spotlight, for this is not its first occurrence.
Just last week we spoke to the girls behind Shit Model Management. A platform where anonymity contributes as equally to its appeal as it does to the sad reality of the state of the fashion industry and the frequent and formidable treatment of models.
An anonymous, ‘faceless’ platform that remains so, largely as a result of fear; fear of the loss of livelihood and for many, which some might consider much worse, the fear of a lost dream.
The inherent difficulty with the nature of anonymity is that the issues, people and circumstances that sit silently behind it become easy to ignore and go largely unseen; (the age old, out of sight, out of mind mentality’) and perhaps it is this ‘nameless’ aspect of modelling that has rendered us somewhat desensitised? Desensitised to many unhealthy pre-pubescent body types on the runway weighing in as normal; desensitised to the fact that certain members of the industry who hold the keys to the future of these girls are treating them as objects with little to no thought or regard to their well being.
What of these girls who have remained silent? What of their right to courtesy and respect and at the very least basic working rights? These are young women with dreams, faces that you may see, names you may never know, carelessly treated as less than. Are we so desensitised to the ‘fashion industry’ that we have come to expect nothing less and would you have believed it anyway?
We need their stories to be told. The good and the bad. Why? Because stories change lives, personal stories drive change and a collective voice can change the world.
Essentially this is not about singling out individuals, what it is about is driving change; pushing for the industry to be regulated globally; for models to be treated fairly; with decency and respect; with basic fundamental rights (thank you Prabal Gurung for the slogan). These stories are the winning arguments for the case in reforming the industry and the push for tighter regulations.
It’s time to shift our focus; to start to consider the person behind the ‘frame’; their stories, experiences, and their feelings and the part they play not only in fashion, but their place amongst humanity.
Ironically I am writing this article on International Women’s Day; a day where ALL women are celebrated, including the pretty young faces, (not just the ones that fit our mould, or the ones we are not intimidated by, and the ones we can tolerate) a day where social media is flooded with countless posts declaring solidarity and unity amongst women.
But where have the women’s voices been? Why has it taken a man to call this out?
Bravo James Scully. We applaud you for you have set a great example…. Not just in your willingness to stand up and be heard but as an example of unity, humanity and a greater regard for others that is beyond image, position and ego.
Isn’t fashion supposed to contain a little bit of magic; a community embracing expression of creativity, a place of fantasy and play; a destination that serves as a little escape from reality and a place that provides a way for us to feel good about ourselves? There is no denying that more than a little of the magic has been lost, but collectively it can be found.
“We are at a time in our landscape where we must speak. We need to scream. Not just for ourselves but for each other” Nakkiah Lui.
It’s time to find your voice.
*See his interview with Vogue here regarding the matter