British Vogue first to sign new code to improve working conditions for models
A model’s life may seem all glitz and glam, but the truth is the industry can be pretty tough, with many suffering unfair working conditions. How would you like working 16-hour days, to change in a room full of people and pose in the baking Caribbean sun wearing winter coats? Hopefully this will become a thing of the past.
British Vogue is the first fashion magazine to sign a new code of conduct governing the treatment of models, which aims to protect those in the fashion industry. Drawn up by models’ union Equity, the ten-point code stipulates models can not work more than ten hours a day, will be given adequate breaks and food, and will not be asked to do nude or semi-nude shots unless agreed to in advance.
Equity, best known for representing actors and actresses, insists models must not be asked to do anything “dangerous, degrading, unprofessional or demeaning”. The ten-point code also forbids models under the age of 16 from being used to represent adults. Other points ensure suitable temperatures for the clothes being modelled and that fitting rooms are available to change in.
Dunja Knezevic, a working model and current chair of Equity’s models’ committee, said: “Signing up to Equity’s Code shows Vogue UK’s dedication to improving the working conditions of models. We hope that other magazines and publishing houses, retailers and designers will also understand the importance of protecting models in the workplace, sign up to the code and prevent treatment of the kind which would be wholly unacceptable in any other profession!”
Editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, said that the magazine has been working with agencies to educate and mentor young models. Last year a health initiative agreement was made between the 20 international editors of Vogue to encourage a healthier approach to body image in the industry.
In an article written for the Guardian, former model and founder of Model Alliance, Sara Ziff, talks about her experience of fashion shoots and why the code offers some much needed protection: “As someone who, on occasion, has worked 20-hour days and been admonished for so much as asking to use the toilet, the Equity and Vogue code represents a welcome change… Equity’s code also stipulates that models be allowed time during the day to eat. Provisions such as these seem so basic they hardly require stating, but unfortunately they do.”
Ziff explains that “surprise nude shoots are routine” even for young models: “In an industry that relies on a labour force of minors who know they are highly replaceable and who are often too timid to say no to such demands, this important protection is long overdue.”
For more information about Equity’s ten-point code of conduct, click here.