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Feb 9, 2017
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The life of a jobbing model at NY fashion week

Feb 9, 2017

Three young models looking to make their mark at New York fashion week explain what it takes to be a jobbing model in the frenzied world of shows and castings.

Bibi Shapirova, 22, from Kazakhstan (left) and Arina Lubiteleva, 19, from Ukraine. - © Catherine Triomphe / AFP

Krystall Schott, 21, from Los Angeles, Bibi Sharipova, 22, from Kazakhstan who speaks a little English and Arina Lubiteleva, 19, from Ukraine who prefers to speak Russian are impossibly tall and slender.

They may not be walking the runway for the most famous fashion houses, but they are all successful enough to live off their earnings and have been picked at castings for a slew of smaller shows.

Dressed in jeans and tennis shoes, they stopped off mid-castings Wednesday at a bar frequented by models just off Union Square, pausing to offer a little insight into their lives on their way out.

It's Krystall's second year at fashion week.

"It's not that important in terms of money but it is really fun. It is a lot of work... you get to run around, meet so many people, you do 15 castings and fittings a day," she said.

It is after the shows, during advertising campaigns, that "you really make money," she explains.

It's Arina's first fashion season in New York.

"It has been a shock to see the absolutely crazy rhythm here: people don't sleep, they run around everywhere, you need to check your phone all the time to see if you're needed somewhere," she said.

- Eating well -

New York and the United States is her third country in just a few months and she has done "a tonne of castings. It's just started to slow down now that fashion week is really beginning."

What about weight? This week, dozens of models signed a petition asking the American fashion industry to "prioritize health and celebrate diversity" amid ongoing concerns about extreme thinness.

"Sometimes I fast two-three days before a casting, but otherwise I mostly try to eat well," said Bibi, who weighs 54 kilos (120 pounds) at 1.80 meters (five feet, nine) tall.

Krystall says she has never been told to lose weight.

"If I gain weight my agency goes, 'Oh great we are going to propose you for this now', and if I lose weight, they say 'That's ok we are going to propose you for this instead,'" she said.

During fashion week, she says she eats "lots" of protein and carbs "because you are walking 15 to 20 miles a day trying to get to all your meetings."

Each had a different path to becoming a model.

"I never thought about being a model," says Arina. "Honestly I never thought of myself as beautiful. But it's true that as a child, instead of watching cartoons, I was always watching Fashion TV and the runways!"

Two years ago, she took part in a modeling contest in Ukraine and reached the final. One of the people watching was in the business already and took her on.

- Party scene -

Bibi said it was her mother who wanted her to become a model. Krystall says a friend encouraged her to sign on with an agency when she was in her last year at high school.

"I was not sure I wanted to do it, but it has been fun," she said. She says the only thing her parents still pay for is her cell phone. "The most I made in a month was $12,000, but sometimes I make nothing."

Do they know what they would like to do after modeling?

"I live day by day!" jokes Bibi.

Arina says the most important thing is to be happy. Krystall says she hopes modeling will help pay for her to go to university.

"Maybe in a year or two, then hopefully I will figure what I want to go for," she said. "You get to go a lot of places, meet a lot of people, I feel I am learning a lot about myself."

When it comes to the pitfalls, they are unanimous about not getting "messed up in the party scene," as Krystall puts it.

"When you are a pretty girl, people want you to go to parties, give away a lot of free things... You have to know when to say no."

"Ninety percent of those who offer free things do it to get something. But I find it easy to say no. My mom taught me that," agrees Arina.

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