want to be a model
Ever dream of being a model? Posing for glamorous pictures and walking the catwalk while cameras snap your every step? You might want to rethink that dream, girl.
A new movement in the modeling industry is revealing the not so pretty face of the modeling industry, and you might be surprised at what’s being uncovered. Models as young as 14 are urged to leave school to take low-paying jobs with long hours (that will only last a few years–once most models are in their 30s, their careers are over!); they’re pressured into revealing their bodies in ways they might not normally want to, because they think their job depends on it; and all too often, girls are asked to do “sexual favors” for the photographers who take their pictures. Gross, right? On top of that, they usually don’t have health insurance, so if they get sick, they’re kind of screwed.
The Model Alliance is drawing attention to issues and abuses that models face in the industry and giving a voice to those often dismissed as mere mannequins. Awesomely inspiring model Sara Ziff is actively trying to remedy these issues and protect young models from being exploited and abused.
“It’s a very strange job—being a clothes hanger, essentially—but it’s still a job,” Ziff told New York Magazine. “We have fundamentally the same concerns as the American worker.”
Ziff revealed that molestation is common in the modeling world. “I get so many messages on Facebook where I have models telling me, ‘I was molested by this person,’” she told New York. “They will tell me the person’s name—‘I really wanna call him out, I’m angry.’ And a check does not justify other kinds of exploitation.”
However, most models don’t call out the skeevy guys and girls who make their lives hell. Why not? Because they fear they won’t work again. Ziff, who began working at 14, told MSNBC, “Most models start their adult careers as minors . . . knowing that they are highly replaceable.” Plus-sized model Robyn Lawley echoes Ziff’s frustrations. “I started modeling when I was 16 and I went off to shoots by myself,” she said. “My parents weren’t there and sometimes you do feel very uncomfortable. You don’t really talk about it. If you say anything you won’t get another job.” Another speaker agreed: “When you know you’re highly replaceable its not so easy to speak out about inappropriate behavior.”
Plus, despite what most people think, modeling typically doesn’t pay very well unless the model is crazy famous (think Gisele). “There’s nothing funny about a work force that is overwhelmingly young, female and impoverished, working for some of fashion’s wealthiest, most powerful brands,” former model and current Model Alliance board member Jenna Sauers told MSNBC. Another model concurred, explaining, “Since we’re independent contractors, basic employment laws do not apply.”
In addition to the harassment complaints, many models are subject to terrible working conditions and little pay. (And you thought your part time gig at the mall was bad!) Sociologist and former model Ashley Mears pointed out that a typical model’s median income was $27,000 per year — less than many retail employees take home when they sell the merchandise that the models wore on the runway.
The Model Alliance is gaining momentum in light of the upcoming New York Fashion Week and launched a bill of rights for models to stand up for and protect themselves, including regulations on backstage privacy while girls are changing clothes. The alliance is also working on a confidential program to provide advice and counseling for victims of sexual abuse and harassment.
While the modeling world may not always be pretty, with Ziff and friends on the case, it’s certainly looking a lot brighter.
Still want to be a model? What do you think about the Model Alliance? Tell us in the comments!
want to be a model