The Model Alliance released a video Thursday as New York Fashion Week comes to a close about ways models are abused and the Respect Program, a private sector initiative aimed at holding the fashion industry to a new global standard.
In the video, which is viewable on YouTube, members of the Model Alliance Leadership Council discuss their specific concerns with the industry, taken from personal experience. They highlight such concerns as unrealistic beauty standards, eating disorders, racism, payment disputes and an overall lack of regulation.
“I am over manipulative practices at modeling agencies,” model Madisyn Ritland said in the video, pointing out a major issue among models worldwide. Others in the video speak about a very common problem of waiting months to be paid and experiencing tokenism and discrimination.
“I’m tired of sexual harassment and abuse from people in positions of power,” said Ambra Gutierrez, who participated in exposing sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
In the video, models call for industry stakeholders to join the Respect Program. It’s the only program designed by and for models and provides enforceable labor protections to models and creatives who work in the fashion industry.
“Under the Respect Program, companies sign a legally binding agreement with the Model Alliance to follow a code of conduct, and receive training to prevent these abuses from happening in the first place,” said Sara Ziff, founder and executive director of the Model Alliance.
Model Alliance is calling for brands, agencies and media firms to sign a legal binding agreement to protect models.
Ziff was unavailable for further comment about the video and the Respect Program.
The video, entitled “Model Alliance — Respect Program Call to Action,” calls out the blatant harassment and abuse that models have faced for decades and demands companies, agencies and other stakeholders to make an enforceable commitment to stop these practices. They feel models need a safe space to talk about their concerns in the workplace without worrying about retaliation. The Respect Program protects transparency and a model’s right to speak up.
“You won’t have to risk being labeled difficult or losing jobs in the process,” said Nathalia Novaes, noting that there is no secure complaint mechanism for models, so they risk their employment by speaking out about abuses.
Supporters are encouraged to share the video and use the hashtag #Time4Respect to build awareness of the need for transformative change in the working conditions for models and creatives in fashion.
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