Young Models The Subject Of Proposed New Labor Legislation
This could be the beginning of a breakthrough for models under 18 working in New York state. This morning, we got a triumphant dispatch from the Model Alliance, the advocacy organization founded by model and activist Sara Ziff, announcing that state Senators have agreed to propose legislation that will combat exploitation and unfair treatment of child models. About time, right?
Senator Diane Savino, Chair of the State Labor Committee, and Senator Jeffrey Klein, Co-Leader of the New York State Senate, will be working with the Model Alliance on legislation that will grant these minors protection equal to that afforded to all child performers. Currently, while minor actors, dancers, and other entertainers are subject to strict regulation of their working hours, conditions, and education, minor models are excluded, leaving the industry to mostly self-regulate — something it has proven very bad at doing. Not to mention the unique pressures the job places places on 15-year-old girls to, say, get in front of a camera topless, or to subsist for a week on carrots alone in order to fit into a sample size.
Trish Goff, a former model who has covered Vogue and fronted Chloé campaigns, tells Ziff’s organization:
“When I started modeling at 15, there were no provisions for on-set tutors and so I dropped out of school. Although I was one of the lucky ones who went on to a successful career as a model, as a child I should never have been forced to make that choice — between modeling and education.”
With the proposed legislation, child models will be provided with on-set chaperones and tutors, and the notoriously abstruse bookkeeping of modeling agencies will be combatted with trust accounts, providing protection, education, and financial transparency.
Will this lead to an overhaul of the industry’s treatment of minor models? Will it mean that more designers will opt to employ women, rather than girls? The politicking is still in its earliest stages, but we’ll keep you abreast of the story in the months to come.
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