Nearly 70 per cent of models have suffered from anxiety or depression, more than half have been exposed to cocaine and many have been sexually harassed, according to a new survey.
The modelling industry is largely unregulated. Models are independent contractors without basic employment rights like workplace protection and minimum age and wage requirements.
This prompted American model, Sara Ziff, to set-up the Model Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation which recently conducted the online survey.
"I have ... seen firsthand how the industry often disregards child labour law, lacks financial transparency, encourages eating disorders, and blindly tolerates sexual abuse in the workplace," Ziff wrote in her mission statement on the alliance website.
An anonymous survey was sent to 241 working models and only 85 replied. While the alliance admits the sample size is small, they say it still offers a window into their work.
They found 29 per cent of respondents had been sexually harassed while on the job and most felt they could not tell anyone about it. A similar number said they had been pressured to have sex with someone in the industry.
Meanwhile, 86 per cent had been asked to pose nude without being warned beforehand.
Model Alliance board member Jenna Sauers, said she wasn't surprised by many of the responses, but she was "saddened" by some stats.
Almost a third of respondents had been asked to lose weight for their work, and said they restricted their food intake to meet these standards.
"For instance, that roughly a third of the models we surveyed had had eating disorders - that was sobering. I was surprised by a few responses. Our respondents ranked anxiety and depression as their number one health concern," she told Fashionista website.
"When Sara [Ziff] and I were just starting to think about ways we could organise models, and how we might go about working for fairer labour standards in the industry, we realised we first needed to know how models viewed their working conditions, and where models themselves saw room for improvement," she said.
"We did the survey because we wanted a map, basically."
Ziff said the data will be used to help "bring about change".
- NZ Herald