Friday, August 17, 2018

Teen Models: How Young Is Too Young?

The modeling and fashion industries are in the process of redefining standards of employment and treatment of models, due in part to the #MeToo movement, and frankly, it’s about time.  Now that power players like Conde Nast are creating employment and work standards that address the imbalance of power and abuse of models the rest of the industry is beginning, however slowly, to wake up and get on board.  

Vogue has gone as far as to take a stance on the use of models under the age of eighteen and is throwing it’s powerhouse weight into the equation to affect change, declaring that all models appearing in Vogue editorials be eighteen or over, that the model will have the right to express their approval over poses and styling, and that the models will not be left alone with a single person while on set.  Conde Nast also has a code of conduct that applies to every person on set that is a condition of employment with their magazines.  Finally, some protection for models, young or not so young, giving them a voice and security while working. 

I spoke to a few of my friends who modeled both in NYC abroad during the nineties and into the 2000’s and their experiences over time and location demonstrate that modeling as a teenager is just as volatile now for current models as it was then.  They recount stories of girls as young as fourteen sent to Tokyo to model for months at a time without a parental chaperone, girls aged fifteen and sixteen modeling in Paris and throughout Europe without completing tenth grade and without proper funds to support them leaving them very vulnerable to exploitation.  Models under eighteen have not finished growing or maturing and are not ready physically or emotionally to handle the pressures of the industry.  Bodies and faces change during these teen years and a super tall, willowy girl could find herself in hot demand doing shows for free or in for exchange clothes one minute, and thrown aside and forgotten the next minute when she develops any slight curves at all.  Having an understanding of the business aspects of the industry is rarely possible for any new model and agencies are not always forth-coming with the necessary advice and information to help models make informed decisions.  

There is a place for models under eighteen years old in the industry at a more local level so that  they can continue and finish school, learn about the business through regional print work and fashion shows, to practice in front of the camera, and most of all the gain maturity and finish growing into their adult body and face.  Local mother agents and agencies are able to spend time developing these new faces so that by age eighteen they are mature enough to handle all the things the industry will throw at them, good and bad.  Time to grow a bit of a thicker skin and have a better sense of self in order to stand up for themselves and deal with rejection.  There doesn’t need to be this sense of urgency that a model needs to have established her career by sixteen or seventeen.  Those who peak early are often the ones to disappear or burn out before they are out of their teen years.  A model needs to be able to make the most of the experience and benefit through the opportunities modeling can provide such as traveling to other countries, working with amazing creative people, and developing her own identity, both for herself and her brand.

There is so much to be done to protect models internationally to improve working conditions, and Vogue’s firm stance on underage models is a great step forward in affecting change industry wide, including the fashion and beauty industries and their own hiring and work practices.  Vogue no longer wants to be a part of the exploitation of teenage models and is pushing the fashion universe to adopt the same level of integrity.  Step by step the modeling world is catching up in labor rights but there is still such a long way to go.  Thankfully Vogue is taking the position of leader in bring the business up to acceptable standards. 

                                                               XOXO Shelley

#businessofmodeling #modelsrights  #underagemodelscontroversy #teenmodelstooyoung #minimumageformodels #ShelleyGoodstein 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.