In my previous blog, I outline some of the scams targeting aspiring models. So what happens if you make it past the gauntlet of modeling school and photography scams and actually sign with an agency? Well...you are still not home free.
ABC, CNN Money, and Mother Jones all published exposés of Trump Model Management's unscrupulous business practices, particularly in regards to foreign models. These models were instructed to lie to immigration officials and documents filed by Trump Model Management promised salaries well above what was actually paid to their models. An even more egregious finding is the near slave labor extracted from models by way of deductions that remind me of the post-Civil War sharecropping scheme. For example, models were charged WAY above the market rate to reside in agency owned apartments and one model revealed to CNN Money that he was only payed $15 for a shoot in which the agency was payed $500.
Trump Model Management is one of several modeling agencies named in a lawsuit filed by former models, so this is clearly a ubiquitous problem. When I first met Briauna of We Speak, she explained that her agency is an ethical alternative to the abusive and exploitative practices that are common at most other agencies. I was impressed with We Speak's business practices, so I made up my mind that I would be a future customer.
So now what? Labor abuses in modeling is a big issue and how can we help to solve it? Paul Argenti wrote an article for NPR which stated that "millennials are significantly more responsive to [corporate social responsibility]", which is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. As a result, some major businesses are taking note and making their business practices more ethical. For example, Perdue Farms is increasing its output of cruelty-free meat. Hopefully, such consumer pressures will migrate into the modeling arena. Exclusively Kristen will only work with modeling agencies that are committed to ethical labor practices and promoting a healthy lifestyle for their models. As more designers and fashion companies take their business to such agencies then, like Perdue Farms, more agencies will succumb to these consumer pressures and change their business practices to ensure ethical treatment of their models. Thus macro-level change usually starts as micro-level choices.