Honestly, the amount I actually know about the modeling industry is probably just a rough cobbling together of episodes of Project Runway, Zoolander, and that episode of The New Girl where Jess gets her heel caught in the rotating car platform. But via a video on Upworthy, I just stumbled across The Model Alliance. Take a look at this introductory bit from the website:
As a model, simply getting paid can be a major issue, and, of the models who achieve a coveted spot walking in New York fashion week, many in fact are never paid at all, instead working for free or for “trade,” meaning just clothes. (Note it’s not that models “get to keep the clothes” as is commonly thought.) Many young models also become crippled by debt to agencies that charge myriad of unexplained expenses and hold significant power over a model’s security as the sponsor for a model’s work visa.
Getting the clothes seems like awesomesauce, but I never realized that might be the sum total of a model’s take home pay for something as ostensibly high end as New York Fashion Week. I can’t imagine it’s particularly easy trying to pay the rent with nothing more than a (really fabulous, I’m sure) high heel, or trying to convince the guy at the bodega to take a silk scarf in exchange for enough food to last you the next few days.
I’ve thought about the unhealthy attitudes that abnormally thin and eternally youthful images in media have on young people, but I’ll shamefully admit that it hadn’t occurred to me how much more direct those pressures are on the young girls who actually do the modeling. When you take the green card angle into account, there develops a picture that seems frightening on a number of levels, and smacks of the kind of “mail order bride” craziness that I thought would have died out with the Old West.
I’ve only just started hopping around there, but it’s really a lot of compelling (and disturbing) information (Seriously, New York: you have the time to legislate soda size, but it wasn’t until June of this year that there were child labor protections in place for underage models? What the hell?). Click on over and take a look for yourself.