Target: Sara Ziff, Founder of the Model Alliance
Goal: Thank this model for tackling labor abuse in the fashion industry
Compared with those in other professions, models are often younger and less securely employed. The ban on employing models under sixteen has only just been issued. In an industry with few legal protections for models, young boys and girls too often find themselves in compromising situations. Ms. Ziff herself recalls that soon after starting her modeling career at age fourteen, she went at her agency’s request to a photographer’s apartment where the photographer told her to remove all her clothes. When she was fifteen, she was sent to other photo shoots involving illegal drugs were in plain sight and explicit imagery in the photos’ backdrop.
With the decline in definitive “supermodels,” agencies are free to use whoever young person pleases them, as long as he or she conforms to a certain height, weight, etc. Most models are independent contractors, meaning that under federal law, they cannot sue their employers for sexual harassment or discrimination. With these contracts, agencies can bind models to them, but are under no legal obligation to help models look for work.
So far, the alliance has been targeting specific areas of the industry that exploits its youngest, most vulnerable workers. Early last year, the members won a ban on New York Fashion Week photographers entering changing rooms. Often photos taken of the nude or semi-nude models made their way onto adult web sites. Most notably, the alliance has achieved the passing of the New York model law, which provides child models with the same protections as child actors and dancers. In addition to guaranteeing a chaperone for the child model, the law ensures a tutor for whenever the child misses three or more consecutive days of school.
Instead of setting out to unionize the fashion industry, which has previously frightened away models still working under their agencies, the alliance encourages models to exert pressure collectively on lawmakers for policy protections, a strategy which has shown promising results since the alliance’s inception in 2013.
By signing the petition below, you can show your support for the crucial work the Alliance is doing to protect the health and welfare of child models for generations to come.
Dear Ms. Ziff,
I am writing to applaud your work in establishing and building the Model Alliance. Your efforts have brought major protections to models, including the banning of photographers from changing rooms during New York Fashion Week and the provision of chaperons and tutors to child models. I commend you for stepping forward to defend the rights of young models, who must struggle to balance their careers with pursuing their education.
By speaking out against labor abuse in the fashion industry, you are ensuring that young models will not be silenced. Thank you for endeavoring to create a better future for generations of models to come.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Art Comments via flickr