New York, Paris, Milan, and London; the fashion capitals of the world, and every model’s dream gig. Once a model has walked the catwalk in the best designer’s new looks for every fashion icon and celebrity to see, it is safe to say their career has reached their peak. From an outsider’s perspective, the career of a professional model is simple. It requires no prior experience, no schooling, and no particular talent, just a lean and tall physique. Despite the apparent luxury, glitz, and glamour of the high fashion lifestyle, a new proposed bill brings the difficulties these models face into the light.
An article from Seton Hall University recently surfaced that brought to light the below average conditions today’s top models are working in.
One of the major issues of these poor working conditions is that most models newly entering the industry are minors. However, modeling agencies work around the underage working laws by hiring them under contracting terms rather than as an official employee. Therefore, society has turned a blind eye to the fast paced and harsh environment these young models are constantly slaving away in, in order to make it to the top.
Seton Hall University’s study explains that most models participating in Fashion Week work a full day (8 AM- 8 PM) with little to no pay. In this day and age, one would typically think there’s no way any labor force could get away with this, but young models do not have union representation, as they are not considered a part of the “child performers” category.
In a piece on The Guardian, model Dunja Knezevic demands basic rights for models. “Two years ago I was on an outdoor shoot in the UK during the autumn, modelling clothes for next year’s summer season. As the day went on I got colder and colder, but strangely after eight hours I started to feel fine. I learnt afterwards that, as oxygen drains from the head, this sense of calm is one of the early signs of hypothermia. After nine hours I lost consciousness,” Knezevic anecdoted of the simply unreasonable working expectations she has faced.
In response to the increasingly devastating and unnoticed status of the job, models have responded with a Code of Conduct. Within it, models command new terms of privacy, better payment rates, age restrictions, and equity AKA union protection.
So, maybe being a model is not so simple of a job as someone without the first hand experience may think. Unless you’re lucky enough to be born into fortune like the Kendall Jenner’s and Gigi Hadid’s of the world, a career path in modeling may need a second look.