Since most models enter the business as leggy teenagers, the industry has often been cast as a place where girls get plunged into a wayward youth and forced to grow up much too fast.
A new industry survey aims to find just how many models have tangled with drug exposure, eating disorders and sexual harassment in the business, and the findings may surprise you.
The study was conducted by the Model Alliance, a group founded by 29-year-old Sara Ziff which seeks to empower girls and women in the modeling industry to speak up against sexual harassment, follow healthy eating requirements and promote fairness and safe working conditions within the business. Ziff's foundation sprang up with apt timing, as controversies like Marc Jacobs' hiring of underage models started to shake the industry and as the CFDA had enough concern to revise its healthy eating standards.
Now, Model Alliance has released the results of their new industry survey, which Fashionista published.
Ziff, fashion writer Jenna Sauers and others sent an anonymous online survey to 241 working models, and only 85 responded; Model Alliance admits the sample size is pretty small. But nonetheless, the findings reveal some startling facts about what many girls are subjected to in the business, including:
- More than half of models start working when they're between the ages of 13 and 16.
- Most of their parents "never" or "rarely" go with them to attend calls and shoots.
- Almost 80% say they've been exposed to drugs on the job, with 50% saying they've been exposed to cocaine.
- 28% of models say they've felt pressured to have sex with someone at work.
- 29% say they've experienced unwanted sexual harassment.