Phoebe Pojo, also known as Pojo, is the “youth consultant” and videographer at Collective World’s sister company The H Hub, as well as (what she considers herself to be) a retired model, who creates meaningful, productive media for models and their fans. After she left her modeling agency at age 18, she started Models That Eat on Instagram and YouTube to create a safe space online for models to discuss their relationships with food and their bodies. Along with creating video content for Models That Eat, she is H Collective’s in-house videographer and community manager.
What is your title at The H Hub? I have a self-made title as a “youth consultant” and I think that applies to everything I do. I do in-house videography, I’m the community manager in charge of events, like dinners and parties and panels, and then I also do, in quotes, “youth consulting” where I talk to brands that come to us for social media marketing. Since I’m the youngest in the office, I’m kinda like the voice of the youth.
What’s your favorite thing about working at H Collective? I like that I get to be creative. I make friends every single day. I get to make content that I know impacts people positively; all the content I’m creating is meaningful and has value and is something meant to help people. My goal is productive media: if it’s not helping others, I don’t want to make it.
What happened with modeling that allowed you to create Models That Eat? I started doing fashion week and I had a lot of friends who modeled. We liked to grab food between castings and when we would travel, we would try out new restaurants. We would be eating pizza and joke, “They always say models don’t eat!” and I thought it was funny, so I made an Instagram account called Models That Eat. Models are objectified, so it’s models that eat and not models who eat. I thought I was so smart! People will reach out to me or I’ll reach out to them–it’s usually my friends or people I know just because it’s more comfortable that way. It’s just a vulnerable space to be in, whether if it’s a vlog or a Mukbang or a Dine N Dish episode where I talk to models about their relationship with food while they eat their favorite foods. It’s nice to see them enjoying themselves and being impactful and honest.
Have you had any major realizations while doing this? Oh for sure. A lot of my friends had eating disorders and didn’t really talk about it. When I would eat with them, it would be them binging and I wouldn’t even know. It started to frustrate me, that something like that went on for so long without anyone trying to help. It’s really hard to watch girls come into this modeling industry and want to be famous and beautiful and validated…but this industry rips them apart. They feel like they’re uglier now than when they first showed up. That’s what breaks my heart.
What kind of reaction did you get from people who came across Models That Eat? I mean, it would just be us eating and me taking stupid photos between shows of us grabbing pizza or eating a burger. A lot of friends have large fan bases and these fans would find my page and message me, “I’m so inspired! Rebecca eating that taco…” and I don’t know, it was just weird. They’d have these strange reactions and I just didn’t understand why it was such a monumental thing to post photos of models eating. But then a model reached out to me and told me she found the account and it inspired her to recover from her eating disorder and start her own positive food-documentation account. I didn’t have the mental capacity to think of something so monumental like that.
What’s your relationship like with food? I’ve always had a really positive relationship with food and I think it’s because I was raised in the modeling industry the right way. My agency really nurtured me when I was young because I was a commercial girl and I didn’t have a lot of body image pressures and it was very easy to please clients with my 14 year-old frame. I went vegan when I was 16. I would get passive remarks about food sometimes but I never internalized them because it’s just the nature of the industry. I mean…your body is your brand.
What are your goals for Models That Eat? I want to create a safe space online for models to discuss their relationships with food and their bodies. Maybe it helps them, like food therapy in a way. I want them to have that open conversation and for their fans to find it and consume that dialogue.
Tell me about your modeling career and that transition to Models That Eat. I started Models That Eat after I left my agency. I even tried to get signed to another big agency in New York and the day before I had an interview, the president of the agency called me and said something along the lines of “We won’t be able to manage you here. We don’t have a platform for Models That Eat at our agency.” They didn’t like that it existed. They were threatened by this movement. I cried to my mom and I asked her what I was doing wrong and she just told me, “No, they’re mad because you’re doing something right.” [cw-mark]