14 September 2015

Should the modelling industry be regulated?

The Issue

Should the modelling industry be regulated?


When Dior chose 14-year-old Israeli model Sofia Mechetner to open its haute couture show in July, the fashion house caused an outcry. But underage employment is just one of the issues in the modelling industry that has raised eyebrows. In June, the UK's advertising watchdog banned an "irresponsible" Saint Laurent advert because it featured an "unhealthily underweight" model. Unpaid work and paying models in “trade” (i.e. designer clothing) is commonplace. And high-profile models like Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss have spoken out about the emotional impact of being pressured to pose in sexually suggestive images as a teenager.

Some countries have passed laws on issues in the industry — France and Israel have both banned agencies from using models with remarkably low BMIs. But others favour voluntary guidelines — Denmark is currently trialling voluntary health checks for models, organised by their agencies.

The execution of industry guidelines is also uneven. The British Fashion Council contractually bans models under 16 years old from London Fashion Week shows; but the CFDA recommends the same rule in New York — and both rules apply to fashion week shows, but not advertising or editorial jobs.

Modelling agencies are responsible for protecting models’ interests when negotiating with clients on pay and working conditions. But advocacy groups are calling for laws that clamp down on agencies guilty of wage theft from their models, and say many models remain vulnerable to exploitation and sexual harassment.

Should the modelling industry be regulated?

Context
Opinions
Sara Ziff Founder & Executive Director, The Model Alliance

Op-Ed | Changes to the Law Would Stop the Exploitation of Models

Models face systemic financial and sexual exploitation. Changes to the law could stop this, says Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance.

Steven Kolb Chief Executive, Council of Fashion Designers of America

Op-Ed | Education, Not Regulation, Will Teach the Fashion Industry That “Health Is Beauty”

The most effective way to keep fashion models healthy and safe is through industry-wide education and open conversation, not by policing designers, says Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA.

Top Comments
Agencies should be responsible for protecting their models and bear the consequences if they do not.
By Jessica Barkley
Unless you are selling to your client's daughter, why is a brand putting anyone under the age of 18 on the runway?
By Sheilaby
It's a job, they're an employee of the company that should have the same protections as any other short or long term employee.
By Geren Lockhart

What's your opinion?