Earlier this year, 29-year-old model and activist Sara Ziff, with the support of fellow models and Fordham Law School’s Fashion Law Institute, founded The Model Alliance as a non-profit organization that strives to “give models in the U.S. a voice in their workplace and organize to improve their basic working conditions in what is now an almost entirely unregulated industry.”
The organization’s latest report gives the results of a survey taken by 85 working models.
Some of the figures are less than surprising, though that fact alone speaks volumes about what we have come to expect from the modeling industry. It will come as no shock to those in fashion, for instance, that 55% of those surveyed started working between the ages of 13 and 16, or that 64% have been asked to lose weight by their agencies. There are, however, some appalling statistics that should serve as a serious wake-up call, even to the most jaded industry types.
There are the drugs: 77% say they have been exposed to drugs or alcohol while on the job and 51% say they have been exposed to cocaine.
The sexual harassment: 30% say they’ve been touched inappropriately on shoots and 28% say they’ve been pressured to have sex with someone at work.
And the mental health issues: 68% report having experienced depression or anxiety.
So yes, fashion can be fun and frivolous, but figures like these should make it blindingly clear that behind the glamour there are serious issues that need to be addressed, and little time to waste.
And for that we applaud Ms. Ziff and all those taking a long overdue stand for models’ rights.