It’s probably safe to assume that when most people think of modeling, they equate it to an easy job where beautiful girls get to walk around in beautiful clothes all day. But if you ask them, they would likely tell you that it’s anything but the glamorous picture some people paint. In fact, it can include downright deplorable conditions that include sexual harassment, abuse and bullying. Thank goodness models are finally realizing this and fighting back with a new Models Alliance that will hopefully provide the industry with healthier role models.
Model Sara Ziff founded the nonprofit organization because she was tired of the treatment she and other models were receiving. The alliance is seeking to establish workplace standards, that will, among other things, include privacy to stop unauthorized nude photos and clear the backstage area of photographers and non-essential staff when the models are changing clothes. They also seek to reduce child labor infringements and provide advice on how to handle body image bullying and sexual harassment, which she says are all too common in this industry.
Ziff, who started modeling at age 14 and is now 29, told the Today show:
Most models start their adult careers as minors and they labor in an unregulated business knowing that they are highly replaceable.
She also said some had complained about being told to lose weight–something that is a dangerous message for any woman, particularly one whose self-worth is tied to her body image. Ziff said others have suffered anxiety or depression as a result of the treatment and pressure in the industry, and some claimed they have been sexually harassed.
Many top designers pay their models in clothes — not cash. This doesn’t have to be the case. We can do better. And we can start by giving models a voice in their work. This is a new frontier of women’s rights, and workers’ rights.
Now this is a movement we can get behind. All women, including models, deserve a strong voice when it comes to their workplace and their bodies. And just because a woman chooses to make her body her career, doesn’t mean she deserves to be mistreated. It’s hard to imagine that even male models would endure similar treatment.
Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at New York’s Fordham University and an alliance board member said it best:
Models have won the genetic lottery. They are tall, they are beautiful, they get paid for walking. But they are human beings, they are not coat hangers.