A New York photographer is defending himself after a modeling agent and former model criticized him in a TikTok post about test rates with some of his clients.
Megan Mesveskas created Model Nexus after spending years trying to make it in the industry herself. When she became a manager, she prioritized building successful careers for a wide range of organizations.
“As a model who was told she was ‘curvy’ or ‘plus size’ for eight years, I suffered all kinds of humiliation in this industry,” Mesveskas told Yahoo’s In The Know. “It is my passion and motivation to protect my role models and help them have the most enjoyable and successful career possible.”
Part of this process is to set up test sessions for its models to build their portfolios. In the TikTok she posted, Mesveskas said she reached out to New York-based photographer William Lords to see if he would be willing to work with some of her models.
In response, an anonymous representative from Lords’ office told Mesveskas that the photographer had two rates for photographing models. The rate for the “standard” models would be $950, but it would be $1,050 for the “plus/curve” models.
“My jaw dropped completely,” Mesveskas said in TikTok. “A curve or a plus size model will cost $100 more. I guess he just doesn’t want to look at them through his camera.
Mesveskas told In The Know that she didn’t respond to the email and that since posting the video – both on her TikTok account and on Model Nexus’ Instagram account – no one in the Lords team had contacted her.
“He’s allowed to run his business as he sees fit… [and] I will manage mine in a way that I believe benefits my clients,” she explained.
Lords confirmed with In The Know that these are its going rates for models. He also said he didn’t watch Mesveskas’ video in its entirety, but had to disable comments on his Instagram account.
“I’ve been shooting curve models for years,” he told In The Know. “I didn’t just add a price for photographing them. I do more than that.
According to Lords, for the test shoots, he operates as both a stylist and a photographer, which means he researches the models. Lords said styling plus-size models in “the coolest creative clothes” requires more work, as many designers don’t produce clothes in their size.
“I go there with my own card – my debit card – to buy clothes,” he said. “They cost close to thousands of dollars. …Because I have to work so much harder to get these clothes, I was going to charge a very low rate of $100.
Lords said he sympathized with the models because, given his own height, he himself had problems getting dressed, sometimes even making do with smaller shoes.
“I’m just a young guy trying to, you know, work in this industry,” he said. “I’m not at the heart of the fashion industry. I am not the clothing maker.
Mesveskas confirmed that she was unaware that Lords was also acting as a stylist during her test shoots, but that didn’t change her view of the situation.
“If Lords wants to be a stylist at the same time as a photographer, that’s fine, but do the math on how you can charge a fair rate for everyone,” she said.
She also took issue with the idea that Lords buys clothes for every model he tests shoots with.
“The idea [that] he personally buys every model, it’s funny,” she said. “A little simple math and you can find a fair price structure that doesn’t penalize women for their bodies.”
Lords maintains that he does not discriminate against plus size or curvy models and told In The Know that he is very proud of the work he produces. He also added that although he works with publications like vogue and celebrities like Katie Holmes, he’s always happy to set up tryouts with up-and-coming models.
“It’s not about discrimination, [about the] women’s size or whatever. I love my work. I love photographing different people,” he said. “I don’t even need to test. I do it because a lot of girls ask me to.
Lords mentioned his experience photographing plus-size models, but his Instagram photography – which has 22,000 followers and which he confirmed he directs himself – does not highlight this work. In The Know requested samples of their previous shoots with plus-size models, which were provided via email.
Mesveskas said she never expected her video to reach as many people as it did. The Model Nexus Instagram has just 1,600 followers, mostly her clients and other aspiring models.
“I didn’t expect it to go beyond my own circle of influence,” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t think the general public would be interested in this.”
Body inclusion and diversity have been major talking points in fashion and beauty for years. From 2016 to 2020, the US plus size apparel industry market value grew by $4 billion to $24 billion. But retailers still aren’t serving the community and, as Refinery29 reports, for some brands, “extended sizing simply means making right-sized clothes in larger sizes, a process that overlooks the fact that women have sizes. and different shapes.
It’s also impossible to separate today’s options for plus size fashion from other factors. Many ethical and sustainable clothing brands remain inaccessible to the general public, whether because of cost, because of the narrow range of sizing options or because some brands do not take disability into account. While struggling to find brands in varying sizes, some plus size shoppers are ashamed that they have no choice but to resort to fast fashion because it’s their only option.
“As a plus-size fashion person, it’s nerve-wracking to tag the brands I wear on Instagram, when I know the majority of them are fast fashion,” said Gianluca Russo, author and fashion expert at Refinery29. . “But the truth is this: this is all I have.”
Ultimately, Mesveskas knows that Lords is just a small symptom of a bigger problem.
“I don’t think focusing just on the Lords is helpful,” she said. “But if we can continue to shed light on how models deemed ‘non-standard’ are handled, we can continue to eliminate the status quo.”
According to New York PostLords is considering legal action against Mesveskas, although she says she still hasn’t heard from him or his team.
Lords, on the other hand, argues that the fashion industry has bigger issues to report on TikTok than its extra $100 fee.
“I think we all know what needs to be done. I think everyone knows what needs to be done,” he said. “People are talking about $100 right now. This is not what should be done. »
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