Seriously, Who IS That Girl?: Thinking About Anonymous Models

By: Emily Yakashiro

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the issue of anonymous models. I recently pointed out in a video that it is considered normal for fashion magazines to leave the models they use in editorials nameless, or otherwise without credit. When they do name them, it is usually because the model of question is also the cover star of the magazine. Alternatively, you might see the model might be named by their first name only, and the outfit detail notes will say something like “Emily wears…,” etc, but very rarely will their whole name be used.

Scan 5

Above: This scan is from the July issue of Flare. I’m not picking on Flare like I picked on Lucky, this magazine just happened to be closest to me at the time. As you can see circled, the stylist and photographer get credit on the first page of the spread, the model does not.

Photographers and stylists are often credited using their full names like, “Styling by Eleanor Strauss,” etc.

I take issue with nameless models for a few reasons:

1. It’s weird. Just use their names. Some magazine obsessive people (*cough cough*) care about this stuff.

2. Names are important. There has been a history of using women’s first names especially as a short form when quoting them multiple times in an article, whereas men get referred to  by their last names. So it would be “Emily says that models…” instead of “Yakashiro says that models….”. This has since changed by and large, but it’s still interesting to note. Some models and celebrity figures can achieve the one name status comfortably like Beyoncé, Iman, Madonna, etc. But for comparatively mortal models and celebs, this is a longterm dream that many won’t achieve (ah the fickle nature of fame).

Scan 7

Above: Part of the above scan that got cut off, just in case the model is credited by first name at least in the description bubble, but she doesn’t. The Celine sunglasses get credit, however.

3. Not using models’ names is kind of dehumanizing. I am not the first to suggest that models are inappropriately seen as bodies only, without opinions, needs, etc. Names show their importance as human beings, and not faces and legs to be dismissed and nitpicked. Furthermore, this illustrates the unbalanced interest in women’s bodies only as important and the only thing worth noting.

Scan 8

Above: The last page of this spread with all the credits. The hair stylist, make up artist, prop stylist, and text author all get credited with their full names. Model name appears no where…

4. Not giving models credit in the editorial with their full names really reveals the whole stereotype of “women’s work is not important” thing. Interestingly, female models represent one of the incredibly few occupations where women consistently make more then men–yet they often don’t get credit for their work. And models in editorials are working–magazines chose them, hire them, pay them, and work with them to put together the editorial over a few hours or days even. Without that model we would see neatly folded clothes and accessories on a background, models make it come to life. So why aren’t they being given credit for the work they do? Is their contribution not considered important enough? ‘Cause it kind of seems that way…we’ve all heard model horror stories (racism, sexual harassment, etc), heck, we’ve even seen them on shows like America’s Next Top Model. If you don’t have a name, people might not care about your voice. It’s kind of like “Look, your name doesn’t even appear in this editorial, do you really think people will care about what you have to say?” Yea, it’s really problematic.


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