Model Blasts Milk for Exploiting Young Black and Brown Women

Model Blasts Milk for Exploiting Young Black and Brown Women

Rihanna’s BBHMM co-star is taking a cue from the hit song.

Published September 27, 2016

One outspoken model is blasting fashion giant Milk for offering her a gig with no money, and moreover being guilty of not paying much of their young talent they commission for projects. It’s pretty fitting that the model, Sanam starred as one of Rihanna’s henchwomen in the video for “B*tch Better Have My Money.” The badass brown girl was discovered by the pop star on Instagram (her page is full of incredibly cool selfies), and without any prior acting experience was cast in the music video. Since then she’s been booking editorial shoots with some of the top names in the biz but after a not-so subtle IG post, it seems like Sanam isn’t being offered the compensation she deserves.

“I have held my tongue about this for so long. I would love to know why @milk, a company worth millions, constantly asks me to work for them for free/no budget,” she writes. The 26 year-old shouts out Vice, MTV, Dazed, Chanel, Teen Vogue and Calvin Klein in addition to Milk as some of the culprits, and sites racism and ageism as their offenses. She continues to encourage other young women, especially black and brown women to know their worth and not settle for work solely for exposure.  

blueberry beret 🌀✨

A photo posted by SANAM (@trustmedaddy) on

i have held my tongue about this for so long. i would love to know why @milk, a company worth millions, constantly asks me to work for them for free/no budget. i know 20 year old girls w/ billboards for @calvinklein who did not get paid A PENNY. the only people who survive off "exposure" are people who already have access to wealth. the rest of the QTPOC these huge companies are exploiting are starving & they're supposed to be grateful cause u gave them an instagram shoutout? there is "no budget" in the fashion industry for brown & black people. they want ur essence, not u. calling this type of bullshit out comes with the fear of losing jobs & the stigma of being difficult to work with. this shit is not new, this has been happening - especially to black people - for years and years. milk, vice, mtv, dazed, chanel..i could write a list a mile long of the companies who are trying to take advantage of every brown+black NYC cool kid. u know who pays? poc. i've had @VENUSXGG pay me more to show up at a party than @teenvogue offered me for a day long photoshoot. this transcends the fashion industry. the only solution is to build ur own brand & control the money - but that is an inaccessible option for most who are just trying to survive. i was lucky enough to be able to say "no" to these companies & refuse to work for free - some people can't & don't & it's not their fault. i'm lucky enough to sit here now & say all this shit & not care about the repercussions b/c i've removed myself from this industry. how can u look at this shit & think it's a joke, see these kids on billboards starving IRL & deduce that it's their fault? if u blame anyone but the companies who are exploiting brown+black folks, u need to open ur eyes. exposure is a joke. these companies are reaching out to u b/c they know what ur worth. u are more valuable to them than they are to u. ur emotional labor is not free. ur time is not free. ur work is not free. ur art is not free. ur body is not free. u are of value even if this industry and this world tells u ur not. u are worth enough for them to be circling u like vultures. know that.

A photo posted by SANAM (@trustmedaddy) on

She reasons that the only way to come out on top within the industry is to build your brand as we see so many entertainers are doing no, but goes on to say that is not always an option for those who are simply trying to survive. It’s a surprising revelation to hear considering Milk is home to some of the top dogs in fashion, music, photography & film but also a necessary one if anything intends to change. It raises the question, when did working for free (or for an Instagram shout out as Sanam puts it) become ok?

“Your emotional labor is not free. Your time is not free. Your work is not free. Your art is not free. Your body is not free,” Sanam leaves us with.

No word from Milk yet on any of Sanam’s comments. But judging by the amount of supportive comments under her post, we can only hope this issue garners the exposure it deserves. In the words of Rihanna…

Written by Jazmine A. Ortiz

(Photos from top: SANAM via Instagram, Roc Nation Westbury Road)


Latest in style