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A New Bill Would Prevent Underage Models From Being Exploited

Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

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Today, in things that you can't believe didn't exist already, a bill has been put forth to the House that would give underage models federal workplace protections. The bill was introduced by New York state congresswoman Grace Meng and would make it much more difficult to underpay and exploit underage models (underage in this case meaning younger than 16 years of age) by creating uniform standards in the industry. The bill "would establish specific working hours, salary and savings requirements (models could no longer be paid in clothes, for example), and it would offer private recourse for sexual harassment," according to the New York Times.

With that description, it's safe to say that The Child Performers Protection Act of 2015 is long overdue. Some states, such as New York, have established laws that aim to protect underage models but this new bill would be the first to implement standards nationwide. The bill is even more crucial when you consider that models are not part of a union, which makes them even more exposed to unfair treatment in the industry.

Models Alliance's Sarah Ziff, who is working on the bill with Meng, hammers home the bill's importance. "When most people think of models, they think of supermodels who command large sums, but most working models are not supermodels," Ziff tells the New York Times. "Most begin their careers as children, and work in debt to their modeling agencies. The pervasive practice of pay in ‘trade' contributes to models' disempowerment in the workplace. Without adequate safeguards, child models often stand to be exploited by adults who do not have their best interests in mind."