TikTok user @thewizardliz said a clothing brand reached out to her over Instagram and said they liked her look. She had modeled before but wasn’t really interested in continuing the career. Still, she decided to take the job opportunity anyway.
“I took this one job ’cause it was paid,” she explained to In The Know. “I don’t know a lot about the photographer — it was someone working on an individual basis that the people from the brand hired.”
Right before the shoot was about to start, @thewizardliz said the photographer offered her another job in two weeks but added that “it would be best if I didn’t eat so I would look skinnier in the pictures.”
“You can’t tell people to not eat until the next shoot because then they will develop an eating disorder,” @thewizardliz tells the photographer in the clip. “You are very lucky that I am secure in my body and that I love myself — but if there was another model who was standing here and was insecure about her body, that one comment that you made would literally make her go insane.”
“She can die because of that one comment you made,” @thewizardliz adds. “You’re not the one to tell me what to do with my body.”
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), eating disorders cause roughly 10,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. BIPOC are half as likely to be properly diagnosed or to receive treatment for their eating disorders as white people.
Back when @thewizardliz did more modeling, she used to get damaging comments about her size all of the time, she explained to In The Know.
“I developed an eating disorder because of [modeling],” she said. “Luckily I recovered, but the comment that the photographer made triggered me.”
Her video has since racked up over 20 million views, with commenters raving about her confidence in standing up to the photographer.
“Thank you for standing up!” one person wrote. “You are making a difference.”
“What a legend,” another added.
The experience was cathartic for @thewizardliz, too.
“Telling him off felt so good,” she said. “I could see on his face he did not expect this.”
According to the replies on TikTok, the photographer has since been fired from working with the brand. The clients also apologized multiple times to @thewizardliz.
“I forgive him for what he said, he told the clients he is very sorry and I believe him,” she said. “However, I don’t aspire to do any modeling anymore. It’s not a business I want to be involved in.”
A 2017 study conducted by Harvard and Northeastern University found that 62% of models were told by their agencies to lose weight. Many models are found to use “unhealthy means” to lose weight and a lot of them are classified as underweight for their age and height.
“I didn’t want to post [this],” @thewizardliz admitted about the TikTok. “But [my friend who filmed it] encouraged me to, since I have a platform and I could help other people who went through the same thing.”
For young models trying to make it in the industry, @thewizardliz wants them to know that it’s OK to stand your ground against harmful comments.
“You don’t have to do everything you are told if it makes you uncomfortable — leave,” she said. “Don’t let those comments get to you, most of the time people are projecting their own insecurities onto you. If they cannot see your worth, someone else will.”
In The Know is now available on Apple News — follow us here!
If you enjoyed this story, read more about critiques of the midsize fashion movement.
More from In The Know: