Equity union calls for tougher rules in the fashion industry amid concerns over the exploitation of young models

Equity union calls for tougher rules in the fashion industry amid concerns over exploitation of young models

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 10 September 2012

The subject of the exploitation of young girls in the modelling world has been widely discussed for years, but the actors' union Equity are determined to put an end to the issue once and for all.

Equity are campaigning to implement new guidelines to help protect young models, by proposing rules which include a maximum 10-hour working day, mandatory meals and for models aged under 16 to be chaperoned.

The union will table a motion at the TUC annual congress on Tuesday designed to boost union representation among models and improve working conditions.

Tougher guidelines: Equity are proposing new rules for models which include a maximum 10-hour working day and mandatory meals

Tougher guidelines: Equity are proposing new rules for models which include a maximum 10-hour working day and mandatory meals

The guidelines will also ask for a ban on under-16s being represented as adult and any nudity to be discussed and agreed with models before the contract is signed.

‘The reality is that many models are treated as disposable labour with little or no working rights,’ says Victoria Keon-Cohen, of Actors' Equity.

‘But because of the supermodel stereotype, and as models are so young, they don't know how to exert their rights; and it's not in employers' interests for them to be aware of them.’

The move comes amid growing claims that young models are being pressured into having sex with clients or photographers and encouraged to pose for nude photo-shoots.

Nicole Mowbray, Editor of the Daily Mail's Life and Style, welcomes the campaign, stressing that the fashion industry needs to protect young girls.

‘It’s easy to think modelling is a glamorous and fun-filled job for young women, and in parts it certainly can be,’ says Nicole.

‘But these proposed new rules are an essential part of ensuring the safety of models when they go to work each day.

Controversy on the runway: Girls under the age of 16 were banned from catwalks and photoshoots in 2007 amid controversy over super-thin models

Controversy on the runway: Girls under the age of 16 were banned from catwalks and photoshoots in 2007 amid controversy over super-thin models

‘Experienced models will have the confidence to object to situations in which they feel uncomfortable.

‘Younger girls, however, are often more vulnerable and too shy to voice concerns. This is why it is important that things like food provision, the allocation of private changing facilities and the compulsory chaperoning of models under the age of 16 should be enforceable.

‘Modelling should be an industry that promotes healthy happy young women and to do this, models – like all other employees – should have rights.’

Despite the proposal, Association of Modelling Agents chair Laurie Kuhrt has argued that many of Equity's proposals have already been addressed.

‘I think what we will find is that there is nothing on [the charter] that the AMA hasn't already well-established over a long period of time,’ Kuhrt told the Independent.

‘For example, with regard to underage models, we came to an agreement with the British Fashion Council several years ago that we wouldn't have any models into London Fashion Week if they were under 16.’

Girls under the age of 16 were banned from catwalks and photoshoots in 2007 amid controversy over super-thin models.