A size two model is suing her former agency, claiming they fat-shamed her and told her she was ‘too big’ to work.
Cleirys Velasquez, 24, started working with Marilyn Model Management shortly after graduating from college and moving from her native Panama to New York City.
But she is claiming in a lawsuit filed today that her agent, agency president Maria Cognata, frequently disparaged her appearance, insisted on frequent weigh-ins, and prevented her from working, according to The Daily Beast.
Legal matters: Cleirys Velasquez, 24, is suing Marilyn Model Management
Size two: She says the agency body-shamed her and told her she was ‘too big’ to work
At first, Cleirys was excited to sign with Marilyn Model Management, which also represents Claudia Schiffer and Bar Rafaeli at its Paris offices.
She went on to book gigs for Maybelline, Aveda, and Mary Kay.
But things turned sour, she claims, when her agent, Maria Cognata, began making negative comments about her body, sometimes in front of other agents.
Cleirys says she was subjected to frequent weight and measurement checks, and was made to seem unavailable to clients.
‘It was just always her measuring me, always letting me know that I was too big for her. It would be stuff like you’re too big, we can’t let you go and see this person, or we can’t have you work,’ she said.
She claims that Maria made it known she ‘hated’ her would call her ‘cha cha girl,’ referring to her Latin American heritage.
She started working with Marilyn Model Management after moving from her native Panama to New York City
Rude: Cleirys says she was subjected to frequent weight and measurement checks, and was presented as unavailable to clients
Tension: She said her agent Maria Cognata began making negative comments about her body, sometimes in front of other agents
‘Sometimes it would really make me doubt myself, make me hate myself. My self-confidence would get hit so hard I would have to try to breathe and say, “No, you know she’s not right,”‘ Cleirys said.
In November of last year, Cleirys told Marilyn Model Management she was leaving, and she switched to a another agency, One Management.
Thereafter, Marilyn filed its own lawsuit against One, claiming they stole Cleirys while she was under contract, though a lawyer for One denied the allegations.
Marilyn’s president, and Cleirys’ former agent, vehemently denies her former clients’ claims, telling DailyMail.com in a statement that the lawsuit is ‘frivolous’.
‘This frivolous new lawsuit follows Marilyn’s repeated success in court against One Management,’ she said.
A pro: She’s booked gigs for Maybelline, Aveda, and Mary Kay
‘Sometimes it would really make me doubt myself, make me hate myself. My self-confidence would get hit so hard,’ Cleirys said
‘The Courts have twice now blocked One Management’s unlawful campaign to usurp for itself Marilyn’s own success with the models it represents. The Courts have also repeatedly rejected One Management’s legal maneuvers, and we’re confident they will do so again with this suit.
‘Marilyn remains very proud of its successful track record on behalf of the models it represents.’
Interestingly, the lawsuit between Marilyn and One is actually a frequent occurrence in the industry: Agencies often sue other agencies for poaching models.
Cleirys’s suit is more irregular, though not the first of its kind.
Last year, a group of models filed a class-action suit against agencies including Wilhemina, Next, Elite, and Click, alleging that they were made to endure weekly weigh-ins and even undergo thigh-slimming surgery.
‘There is nothing beautiful about the way the modeling industry in New York City treats its models,’ read the suit, according to the New York Post.
‘It was just always her measuring me, always letting me know that I was too big for her,’ she said
‘It would be stuff like you’re too big, we can’t let you go and see this person, or we can’t have you work,’ Cleirys added
‘The defendants — some of the largest and most powerful modeling agencies in the city and the world — have systematically taken advantage of the models they claim to represent by unlawfully diverting millions of dollars in value from the models to themselves.
The models suing included Vanessa Perron, Marcelle Almonte, Carina Vretman, Eleni Tzimas, Melissa Baker, Grecia Palomares, and male model Alex Shanklin.
Vanessa Perron claimed that Next made her ‘have a procedure to make her thighs slimmer (and even offered to recommend a facility to provide this service), along with instructing her that she should lose weight, change her hair, dress differently, and work out more.’
Melissa Bake claimed she was weighed and measure up to three times a week at Click.
Eleni Tzimas claimed Elite required her and other models to be ‘photographed in bathing suits multiple times per year so that [they] could monitor their weight and figure.’
The suit also addressed issues of pay, living conditions, and other pressures.