Modeling is one of the most glamorous industries in the world. Unfortunately, the potential for exploitation is enormous. Modeling agencies are not licensed, and while many are ethical and caring, some are questionable and too many are outright fronts of human trafficking.
“It’s a relatively young industry,” says anti-trafficking advocate Elizabeth Peyton-Jones. “It exploded internationally in the 1980s, moving from established markets to emerging markets. She explains that there is little outside monitoring of what is happening to young people or verification that the organizations that reach out to young people are who they say they are.
The system makes the model vulnerable
“Models are extremely savvy,” says Peyton-Jones, founder and CEO of Responsible Trust for Models, a London-based organization that works with the fashion industry to make modeling safer and more sustainable. “These are young entrepreneurs who are self-employed and who struggle to navigate a system that has few international standards, few rules and weighs against them.”
In the current brand, model agency, and model ecosystem, the model is at the bottom, with the least power. The model donates 40% of her income to her agency, and she is infinitely aware that her livelihood depends on the satisfaction of her agency.
The contract that a model signs with an agency is binding, so anyone at the agency who is unhappy with the model can ensure that they cannot find a job. If she doesn’t have a job, she can’t pay her bills. “A model can accumulate debt just by being sent to castings,” Peyton-Jones points out. “She may never get the job, but will end up getting into debt with the agency.”
Being economically vulnerable is a recipe for exploitation. Added to economic vulnerability is the fact that being beautiful, sexy, attractive and objectified for her beauty makes her an attractive target for exploitation by unethical individuals.
With the best agencies, the model is safe. In Peyton-Jones’ experience, some agencies treat their models admirably. They are ethical, they are worried, they are doing the right thing.
But not at all. Some agencies may overlook bad behavior, such as when a photographer improperly touches the model or a casting director wants sexual favors.
In too many cases, unethical agencies may insist that models attend late-night parties where models are believed to be sexually available to clients. Saying “no” may mean being excluded from future modeling work.
Source: Adobe Stock Stock Image
Traffickers pretending to be model agencies
At worst, the modeling industry doesn’t even involve modeling. Traffickers can pose as representatives of a modeling agency. Their MO is to attract attractive girls from Eastern Europe or Asia, for example, with the promise of an exciting and lucrative modeling career. Unfortunately, a downside to the current popularity of ethnic diversity is that bogus modeling agencies target young people in Africa.
The person who embarks on a modeling career leaves their country for the modeling profession of their dreams. What awaits them is the nightmare of being forced to have sex with several strangers every day.
Peyton-Jones knows that the fashion industry is plagued with a multitude of very bad behavior. These include sexual misconduct, debt bondage, micro-aggression, intimidation, and if that wasn’t enough, there is also the potential for human trafficking in general and human trafficking in general. sexual purposes in particular.
Peyton-Jones Model Trust targets unethical and bogus modeling agencies. One of its strategies is to issue the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval to ethical agencies.
The Trust Club verification system
Model agencies who wish to be part of the Trust Club agree to have their models anonymously respond to a questionnaire supervised by Peyton-Jones and his organization. The questionnaire examines to what extent and to what extent models are treated ethically. Agencies that rank well stand out.
In addition, the Trust Club offers training, coaching and service providers to models if they need legal or financial advice or just need someone to listen.
“Without the Trust Club verification system, it will be a bit like getting into an unlicensed taxi. You can do it, but you know the risks, ”says Peyton-Jones
Modeling is perhaps one of the most glamorous professions in the world. Peyton-Jones wants it to be safer.