The truth behind the fashion industry is different than one might imagine, and it is unlike what I envisioned when I first started. After being in the industry for a while, I really gained perspective. Little did I know when I first started that I would be modeling fur in the summer, bathing suits in the winter, working endless hours and eating very little. The business of modeling can truly be physically exhausting. To top it off, usually everyone involved in the photo shoot gets credit but no one ever knows the name of the model. Then there are dishonest agents and unscrupulous photographers to work with.
Most young girls are not ready to be in business for themselves as a model, to be an entrepreneur. Modeling is not all glitter and gold and models were underrated and underpaid. That’s not all, as you must be 5’7″ or taller to gain admittance into the modeling industry. Now that’s height discrimination, an issue Bella Petite is taking on for petite women! Free to subscribe to Bella Petite!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for models in 2010 was $32,920 per year. But low salaries are only the tip of the iceberg when we look at other problems in the industry. Models may face sexual harassment and be encouraged to develop unhealthy eating habits or to get plastic surgery. In an industry where you can get under the spotlight of the runway and be absorbed in the excitement of it all, it is easy to keep silent about life behind the runway—not wanting to get replaced by the next girl that’s dying to take your spot.
It’s for this reason I applaud model, Sara Ziff. She has given her career to make right what she has seen firsthand models facing on a daily basis. So Ms. Ziff has created The Model Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on providing a support system for models. The organization’s goal is to restore the current industry by establishing ethical practices.
Most recently, The Model Alliance’s hard work paid-off when Vogue made the choice to no longer hire models under 16 years old or who seemingly have eating disorders. In addition, The Model Alliance has been working alongside the Council of Fashion Designers of America to address rising concerns in the fashion industry, especially the overlooked treatments of models backstage at New York Fashion Week.
The Model Alliance has drafted The Model’s Bill of Rights they would like to see become the industry standard. This would enforce rules such as the following:
1. Keeping it Professional. Models want private dressing rooms with no photographers around when they are changing—a problem that even has happened to models at New York Fashion Week.
2. It’s OK to Negotiate. It’s your absolute right to ask questions, reread the contract, and negotiate commissions. In addition, ask to see a breakdown of all costs and terms of the job. Don’t be shy to ask questions. It’s like Mom always says, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”
3. Rights of Minors. Just because you’re a young model doesn’t mean you should be treated any different. Model Alliance wants to make sure that the Agency works with minors’ parents to form an education program. They also want to set a minimum age of 16 years to work the runway at New York Fashion Week and a minimum age of 17 to be asked to pose nude or semi-nude.
I’m in awe of the hard work that Sara Ziff has put forth to create this much needed support system which every model deserves. We know petite models don’t have much representation in the modeling world and Vogue (along side the other mainstream fashion magazines) does not feature petite models in their editorials. Nevertheless, the standards are changing with Bella Petite Magazine, and now is the time for us to come together to change the modeling industry for all by expanding participation. No model, young or old, should be put into an uncomfortable situation, unsanitary condition, or an unsafe environment for the sake of their career.
I encourage all of you Bella Petites to become a member, a patron, or simply donate by visiting modelalliance.org.
The best way petites can break into the world of petite modeling is to enter the Bella Petite Model search. The application fee is reasonable and I always tell model hopefuls there is no such thing as a free ride to becoming a model, you have to invest in yourself. I can tell you that this is an opportunity you can’t afford to overlook and this is how you build your book with tearsheets, meet professionals, gain experience and exposure! You may even win an all expense paid trip to Hawaii with a high fashion spread in Bella Petite Magazine and launch your petite modeling career!
Be sure that you tune in to the Bella Petite Hour for my latest news and insights on the fashion and modeling industry with Ann Lauren.
By: Clarissa Burt and Madeline Ulivieri
Bella Petite Magazine Petite Fashion Model Editorials
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