THE REAL SKINNY: Many working models need no reminders that thinness is still prized in numerous echelons of the fashion industry, but Snezana Pisar inadvertently hammered that point home via TikTok.
The Miami-based model posted a video of herself last month, working out in a gym with the message “POV your modeling agent says you’re not skinny enough for Paris.” Convinced that she was skinny enough — at 5 feet, 11 inches and 135 pounds — and that there was no way she needed to lose weight, the model heard from a slew of people immediately after. The post gained one million likes within 48 hours.
Now with 5.2 million likes and streams of comments, the video continues to gain attention. “It was what was happening in my life at the moment, and I just thought, ‘Why not post it?’” she explained Tuesday, adding that she wondered if a lot of other girls were going through the same thing, especially models who work in Paris.
“A lot of girls reached out and said they definitely had eating disorders because of the industry. It was basically because they were told that they had to lose weight, which is very sad. Health is wealth. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” Pisar said.
Sixty-two percent of models had been told by their agencies that they needed to lose weight, according to a 2017 study by researchers at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of a Public Health and Northeastern University. The prevalence of eating disorders is a global problem and one that has more than doubled to 7.8 percent of the population in 2018 compared to 2000, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
From Pisar’s standpoint, models need to speak up more to raise more awareness about the problem. “I feel the industry is changing, but it’s very slow. In some countries like France, it’s going to be harder to change. Paris is just known for having models that are really skinny to be able to work there,” she said. “Like in my case, if you don’t want to have health issues, maybe Paris isn’t the place for you. There are other markets where you can work.”
The video brought in some prospective deals, which the Serbian-born model has yet to commit to except for one. Pisar is hoping to walk runways during New York Fashion Week.
She is represented in the U.S. by the Walk Collective, but her agent there did not tell her to lose weight to be more of a candidate for Paris Fashion Week. Another agent, whom she declined to identify because she continues to work with them, had recommended the weight loss. “As models, it’s up to us to decide what are good decisions. They can always give us their input and opinions. That might be a fact that for Paris, you need to look a certain way. But no one is going to force you to do anything. It’s up to us to make those decisions. Unfortunately, there are girls who are willing to do anything just to make it. A lot of the time it’s younger girls who are just starting out. They might think it’s cool because of the lifestyle. But I hope that changes.”
The Daily Mail highlighted a similar weight-related incident experienced by Arisce Wanzer, a Black trans model, in a recent article. The 25-year-old Los Angeles-based model said in a TikTok video that at 6 feet and 123 pounds she was told that she needed to lose 10 pounds. Although Pisar does not know her, she said, “That was crazy. She’s even taller and weighed less than I do now. But she was still told that she was too big.”
Wanzer’s manager Max Shifrin said she hasn’t picked up any modeling gigs as a result of The Daily Mail coverage. Her last assignment was a bridal one for Radleigh + Sage in partnership with Monique Lhuillier.