This is the kind of remark I often hear about my efforts to establish fair labor standards for models working in the American fashion industry. Modeling is a seemingly glamorous profession, and models are certainly not the people you picture when you think of bad working conditions. But wipe off the sheen and another reality emerges.
The modeling business today is unregulated and relies on a compliant labor force of children.
Sexual abuse is a pervasive problem. Consider just the last few years: in 2008, fashion designer Anand Jon was found guilty of rape and multiple counts assault on aspiring models, who ranged from 14 to 21 years old.
What is worse, in an industry where the majority of models start their careers before age 16, most working unchaperoned and far from home, the incentive to say nothing in order to keep your job creates an unconscionable environment of coercion.
Lack of financial transparency is also a significant problem. Last year, three models brougt a lawsuit against their New York agency Next for allegedly withholding $750,000 of their earnings.