As some of you may know, a bill has passed in the US which means that models under the age of 18 are protected by the same laws that apply to child actors and singers. I agree with most of the bill, here are some thoughts.
1. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a chaperone. This is GREAT. Unless of course said chaperone is just someone from the modeling agency who is not looking out for the best interests of the “child.” I can’t imagine ever letting a child of mine out into the fashion world at the age of fourteen without a parent or trusted guardian looking out for them. While many stories are exaggerated, the fashion industry is not exactly child-friendly, and I think it is excellent that young girls will have someone looking out for them.
2. Employers will have to apply for a certificate of eligibility to hire children, and fill out additional paperwork notifying the state of specific dates, times, and locations of the jobs beforehand. The minute you make things super complicated, people either give up, or cheat. So in this case I am guessing companies will either find ways to avoid doing this paperwork – which sounds complicated, or stop using models under the age of 18 – a wonderful thought, but unlikely. I am pretty sure model agencies will simply use fake IDs and claim their girls are over the age of 18. So many things in fashion are done at the absolute last minute, and it is close to impossible to be super specific about things beforehand – because deadlines are affected by so many parties. I doubt this clause will be properly followed.
3. Fifteen percent of a child model’s income will be placed into a trust account that they can only access when they turn 18. Best. Idea. Ever. What 15 year old could be trusted to mange large sums of money properly? Not many at all. And this will also stop parents or guardians accessing money earned by their children. Love it.
4. If child models miss more than three days of school, their employer is required to provide them with a tutor and a space to study. Three days of school in a row? In a month? In a year? I do not think this should be the responsibility of the employer. Let’s face it, school years include a lot of holidays, and if a teenager wants to miss 2 weeks class in the middle of the year to earn a crap load of money, then it is their decision. They can make up the work, on their own time – during the many school holidays they have. And if it means hiring a tutor, then so be it. A model earns more than a tutor, I am sure they can afford it.
5. Child models won’t be allowed to work after midnight or return to work less than twelve hours after they’ve left. I fully agree with the midnight curfew, but if you are a model doing catwalks, there is a very good chance you’ll finish at 10pm one night and start again at 7am the next day. I can’t see how this will work. If Marc Jacobs hires a teen model for his show, and sends her home at 10pm, then Michale Kors hires here at 7am the next day – how is this enforced? It doesn’t make sense and will just complicate matters.
The good news about this bill is that there will likely be less teenage models working in the fashion industry, because not all companies will be willing to follow these laws or break the law. Since most luxury brands are selling to adults, I really don’t think it is a bad thing for the clothes to be modeled by adults. Right?