PRESS: The Model Manifesto x Fabulous Magazine

Eimear O’Hagan exposed the dark side of the modelling industry this week to 2.2 million readers when she published an article in Fabulous Magazine, The Sun detailing how the MeToo movement has impacted modelling. The Model Manifesto author, Leanne Maskell, was featured discussing the issues with the modelling industry and the upcoming book, which is available to pre-order soon prior to publication on May 2nd. 

It marks an important change with regards to how the modelling industry is normally reported by the press, who often choose to focus on stories about models being pressured to lose weight and the effect this has on society. The complicated stories of models being financially exploited and working in extremely dangerous conditions has only come to light in recent years, which is finally allowing a real conversation to take place where practical change can happen. It is only by including the voices of models themselves we can begin to move forward, however in an industry where speaking out is faced with being dropped by your agency (as Teddy Quinlivan found) or having work deprived from you, this has not happened until now. 

Transgender model Teddy spoke about abuse and found herself dropped from her NY model agency.

Transgender model Teddy spoke about abuse and found herself dropped from her NY model agency.

It is hard to blame models for not speaking out when their entire careers are at risk and many of them do not even understand how they are being exploited, because they are kept so in the dark. There is usually just a general feeling that something is wrong, but with nothing ‘right’ to compare it to, and no idea of your basic legal rights, let alone the obligations that have been agreed on your behalf by your agency but not communicated to you as a model, it is virtually impossible to speak up. 

Until now. The Model Manifesto is here to shine a light on all of the unspoken practices of abuse, to let models know their rights and responsibilities, to gain a proper understanding of their job and what it should entail - so they can stand up for themselves when they are being exploited. Change is visible, with esteemed journalists such as Eimear commenting on the depths of the industry and discussing how it can be improved. 

The Fabulous magazine article highlights issues such as fake castings, held by fraudulent people who call up model agencies holding castings under the pretence of potential modelling work. Agencies often have no proper way of verifying these clients other than a quick Google search, possibly seeing websites that can easily be faked or not linked to the person contacting them. Due to the dangerous nature of casings themselves, models can then be in extremely precarious positions where they are asked to undress, have their photograph taken partially or fully nude and do things they may not be comfortable with such as kiss strangers. This is all common practice for ordinary castings therefore a fake casting would not be much different, unless the model could tell something was off! 

Multiple models accused photographer Patrick Demarchelier of sexual misconduct.

Multiple models accused photographer Patrick Demarchelier of sexual misconduct.

Further discussed is how photographers can abuse models in the highly intimate and unusual setting of photoshoots, with one anonymous model sharing how a photographer spread paint between her legs and kissed her despite her mother being present. Famous photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier & Terry Richardson are facing allegations of abuse where they were alleged to have sexually harassed models. If these photographers at the top of the industry can get away with it for so long, whilst enjoying a huge level of success - what does this mean for the masses of amateur photographers who have easy access to models and shoot them in dangerous locations such as their private homes? This is often with the full knowledge of the agency, which is what makes the entire situation even more dangerous - it is accepted conduct. 

Eimear also shows how club promoters can exploit models by preying on their financial vulnerability - demonstrating how models can easily find themselves in serious debt as a result of simply being signed to a model agency. Paying extortionate prices for rent in model apartments, for test shoots, flights, hair appointments, clothes, personal trainers and nutritionists is all common industry practice, where the model has this model automatically spent and deducted on their behalf by their agency as they begin to earn money, which is not usually paid to them for at least 3 months.

Further highlighted is the efforts of others within the modelling industry to bring about change, such as Edie Campbell, Cameron Russell and the British Fashion Model Agents Association. Apps hailed as the ‘uber of modelling’, which allow the client and model to connect directly are also discussed, which provoke their own interesting issues of discussion - mainly how to regulate this in the virtual realm!

Cameron Russell’s movement #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse inspired thousands of models to come forward with stories of abuse and has led to the creation of the Model Mafia.

Cameron Russell’s movement #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse inspired thousands of models to come forward with stories of abuse and has led to the creation of the Model Mafia.

Ultimately, collaboration across the industry is needed for real change to come about. It will require everyone working together with one common goal in mind: the end of the exploitation of models. This involves changing the status quo, which has and does benefit many powerful people in control of the industry, so it needs a monumental effort from the bottom up to create a better working environment for models. This requires models being empowered to understand their own careers and legal rights - they cannot enforce what they do not know exists.

Thank you very much to Eimear O’Hagan & Fabulous Magazine for covering the exploitation of models. The full article can be read here.