Female Fashion Photographers on Sexism: One Lost a Job for Being Overweight

Female Fashion Photographers on Sexism: One Lost a Job for Being Overweight

To be a successful photographer, you don't have to be physically stronger, faster, or tougher. It's not like pro sports where it's normal for the number of men to overpower women. So why are women still facing so much systematic sexism and harassment in the photography industry? 

Whether the discrimination is obvious or subtle, at the camera store or in meetings with major companies, it's been carelessly overlooked and tolerated for years. Although women are doing the same quality of professional work, they are fuming because they are still being turned down for jobs, paid less, and judged because of their gender. Five very talented female fashion photographers — Kristiina WilsonKia CaldwellAdrienne AndersenBriAnne Wills, and Stacy Kranitz — were interviewed by Racked where they talk about the ridiculous things they've had to deal with while fighting their way to the top. They address the fact that women have such a unique and distinct approach to photography that is cherished by everyone, so there should be no gender gap.

I was amazed to read that Wilson, who has shot for all the major magazines including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and international editions of Elle, Esquire, GQ, Vogue, and Glamour, can't figure out the sexism. She explains that the playing field should be even, but it's far from it. Andersen, an African American photographer with 15 years of experience, explains that brands and editors are just used to working with certain male photographers, so we have to push our way in if we want to get anywhere at all in this industry.

[via Racked]

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60 Comments
Michael Aubrey's picture

Monstrous.

Deleted Account's picture

I understand the slob part but fat? What do you consider fat? Does someone else consider the same people to be fat? Are we talking a BMI of 30? 35? 40? What exactly is your concern? You just don't like them...do they taste bad? :-) You think they're lazy and won't do a good job?

When I was a Freshman in High School, another school's Freshman track team arrived for an informal meet. Among them was a short, fat (by any definition) black boy and I couldn't help wonder what event he would be competing in. At that level, we didn't have shot put. 50-Yard Dash? Are you f'g kidding me!? He smoked everyone. He blew down that track so fast, the other runners were just getting out of the blocks when he finished. Well...that may be a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.

Neville Ross's picture

There's a difference between a person who's been competing for a while in sports but who's 'fat' and a person who's fat being a model-most modeling agencies/fashion houses didn't look at anybody who was fat then, and they probably won't look at one now still. It's the nature and reality of the business, and it fits with how people feel about obesity (the 'obesity plague', et.al.) nowadays.

Deleted Account's picture

In the case of this article, being fat or not is irrelevant to the job which, of course, is relevant for a model. But, yeah, I get what you mean about it depending on how people feel about obesity. What should be an issue of health or, in some cases, attractiveness has become a moral issue. If you smoke or eat junk food or are obese, you're somehow a bad person. I think a lot of non-smoking, healthy eating, fit people will be very surprised when they appear before God.

Ken Flanagan's picture

Whatever the reason behind your comment, I can assure you that your short comings are now just as visable as those who battle with their weight.
You can take care your body all you want, but it will never fix what’s wrong on the inside.
Mr, Brown, if you ever need help, I would be glad to talk it out with you. That is if you don’t mind chatting with an admittantly over weight guy.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Why bother? Take it as the stereotypical behaviour of a negative person who just likes to bash on the internet and move on. Some people are not worthy of other's time.

Ken Flanagan's picture

I know you are right, but I’m absolutely sold on the idea that even the most loveless people in this world still need a hug. He is exactly who needs love the most. In the end, I hope someone will do the same for me, as I am no better than he is. I want to believe in people in any situation because I was given forgiveness at my worst.

Pedro Pulido's picture

good on you! you're way more patient than i am but no doubt you got the right attitude.

Ken Flanagan's picture

People are who they are. I like you photos and back stories btw. Wonderful.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

You are right you can't fix your brain lol

Douglas Turney's picture

Nice dude. You just threw that out there because you knew you would get a response. Sad that you need to do stuff like that to attention.

Douglas Turney's picture

The fact that he hasn't responded leads me to believe it was throw the comment over the fence and see what happens. Or perhaps as you say he means what he wrote. Either case the comment is trash.

John Ohle's picture

PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE TROLL

Deleted Account's picture

You're defending your other account now?

Deleted Account's picture

The one you're defending. Deductive reason much?

Gabrielle Colton's picture

LOL Always feed the trolls ;)

Anonymous's picture

While I may not agree with your comment in whole, I support your right to express yourself. God bless America.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Gotta love the USA lol

Stephen Kampff's picture

There are certainly overweight photographers in the business, anecdotally. Both for catwalks and otherwise. It's still a tough industry of course, and hasn't been able to avoid racing to the bottom like a lot of new media — but from what I've seen, I would imagine weight is a non-issue so long as it's not in the way.

Photographers are not hired for their dashing looks (even in fashion), and can totally see why somebody would complain if it came down to that.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Thanks Stephen

Neville Ross's picture

The ONLY problem I have with this (and it affects me too, because I'm also a 'big' guy) is how do these photographers squat when they need to do so, or do the other things needed to take a photograph.

user 65983's picture

.

Anonymous's picture

I didn't waste even one second of my time reading this article. Didn't even get past the title.

user 65983's picture

.

Anonymous's picture

It's our world post Obama. entitled millennial cry babies, the myth of white privilege, cop hating, the myth of homophobia, safe spaces, a trampled first amendment, rioting babies when they lose elections. I could go on and on.

user 65983's picture

.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, and that too!

Neville Ross's picture

Although I UNDERSTAND why the industry doesn't like fat people, I don't CONDONE this attitude, and I find your comment (and Jeff's ) to be in bad taste and just borderline racist, and a whole lot of other things that are connected with retrogressives like yourself.

As for the comments about Obama, I've got something to clarify how better he was for the USA and the planet than the current POTUS people like you elected:

pleasecutthecrap.com/obama-accomplishments/

Deleted Account's picture

I don't really care if someone votes my comments down but am a little disappointed if they don't tell me why. Since I wrote the comment, I didn't think it was objectionable in any way so I'm hoping you'll tell me. Or you could just vote this comment down, without an explanation, too. I'm used to it.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Just being honest, being treated like this makes you a LITTLE sexist towards men. And rightfully, I deal with it every day of my life, who the heck wouldn't become sexist after enduring this BS?

user 65983's picture

.

Anonymous's picture

Oh look, another social justice article. Yawn.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

;)

Bill Chase's picture

Kind of silly to fire someone for being overweight if they can do the job. On the other hand, very reasonable to not hire someone if they have a website like this: http://kristiinawilson.com

Stephen Hutchinson's picture

Well I got this message at the bottom of that horrific experience of a web site: "You are Visitor #00010"

michael buehrle's picture

i was just number 11, my eyes !!!!!!!

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Oh god, how can I unsee this? I came back in time and was #0007

Elan Govan's picture

See what you mean. It has every chance of giving someone a seizure

Anonymous's picture

Is that... real? Feels like a really poor attempt to be "artsy" and "ironic"...

Jim Bolen's picture

Yeah, pretty embarrassing, for sure. Must be a good friend of the writer of this article.

Bryce Booth's picture

she says. “I will always hire a female assistant first.” - somewhat ironic. I actually read the article and thought...rubbish, it's easier for people to simply make excuses and label it a gender problem. Sometimes, things just don't fit.

Chad D's picture

everyone is a victim these days or sure loves to be one for some sympathy reason

freaking disease it is !!!

Kirk Darling's picture

That's something I've been noticing. Every person has a variety of ways to be identified...and it seems fashionable these days to select the identity that can be claimed "victim" rather than "privilege."

It's a matter of great privilege just to be in a time and place that one can even attempt a career of professional photography. Most other people in the world are living a hard-scrabble existence.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

This is a-ha moment for me.

Now I understand why I was turned down of so many jobs and slimmer, fitter, smilier, shinier and younger female photographer was selected.

Elan Govan's picture

I used to work for the Health Service in the UK, and I am yet to hear a man complaining about not being selected to study midwifery, even though there are plenty of men consultants who are Gynaecologist. Go figure!

M L's picture

Ok so I read the article and also looked at the photographers links.
First I have to say that there are way more prejudices in the fashion than being female, there is the gay mafia of editors, stylists and photographers that are very insular. There is also a strong photographer/ photographers assistant system that has weakened a little but is still very strong. Look at the majority of the top photographers working today and they all assisted notable photographers. alexi lubomirski assisted Mario Testing, Christian McDonald assisted Steven Meisel, Daniel Jackson assisted Greg Kadel who assisted Mario Testino. Someone most haven't heard of yet stas komarovski assisted Steven Meisel and is starting to blow up. If you want to work in fashion assisting is the way to go.

Interview magazine tends to nurture these assistants by giving them assignments that they fund personally.
Looking at the links these women do not have the books to compete with the people shooting for the big magazines and the ones that claim to have shot for the bigger magazines have only had small feature photos not main editorial.

Kristiina Wilson has a well known history of whining about non equality in the fashion market but she isn't a mainstream type of photographer, you can't just let your freak flag fly and not put out the type of photography that the mainstream fashion clients want and then scream discrimination.

And the people that commented that photographers aren't hired for their looks have not been on many shoots, yes looks, personal style, gender,weight, circle of friends, past clients, where you grew up, who you have dated all are taken into account whether people admit it or not.

So if you are going to post about discrimination of women in the fashion industry please do so with women that are at the level to compete.

There are a bunch of busy working female photographers out there, yes I'm sure they face discrimination in many ways but they are still making it.
Annie Leibovitz, Alique, Inez van Lamsweerde, Sarah Silver, Zoey Grossman, Kate Powers, Coliena Rentmeester, Katja Rahlwes, Harley Weir, Zoe Ghertner, Cast Bird...

stir photos's picture

Haha... This is either very well said, or even better researched. I like the response. In the tiny and strange world of things put in perspective, it reminded me of this from Resevoir Dogs, " ... he's convinced me; gimme my dollar back...". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4sbYy0WdGQ

It's definitely systematic, but probably not as ISO intends it in it's human resources management guidelines of best practices, for sure. I'm well versed with HR and understand the "complaints" that sometimes get boiled up... There's an uptick in equal pay for Women in the corporate subculture, as well. That's the times we live in, and that's a good thing in the longest of terms, for us as a society and a culture. But, again; "... he's convinced me; gimme my dollar back...".

If I read it correctly, that's just the reality of the fashion subculture. Right or wrong, I'm guessing it's right and that's just the times we live in, as well. In addition to HR, I'm also pretty familiar with the "good ol' boy" way of getting things done and it seems to me in the same wacky sense of perspective, that's essentially what you describe almost by definition- minus of course the intolerance and the fact that being pretentious is alive and well in the times we live in in the fashion world, as well. I don't know from first hand experience, but I'm willing to go pretty damn far out onto the proverbial ledge to bet the ranch that it's true.

I'm glad there are people out there trying to change things they believe in productively- no matter what level they're making their stand. haha... Anyway, the best part of that scene was how it ended... Nobody had the answers, just like me haha, but all of them were fully aware of the realities, no matter which side they were on. ッ

Just my .02 cents worth...

dominiqueseefeldt's picture

I remember one time not getting to work for a client because I am a dude...so I guess it goes both ways. But nobody talks about that side of the coin!

user 65983's picture

Oh no! Us dudes never have problems getting work...clients kiss our feet and do anything for us to work for them hahaha,

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