oh-so-coco:

THE MODEL ALLIANCE

Tonight it was my privilege to host the first ever meeting of the newly-formed Model Alliance - a nonprofit organization committed to establishing a voice for models within the American fashion industry. Up until now, models have sadly lacked a formal voice within this industry. Though modeling may seem to be a cushy and easy job on the outside, for many young models the law (including workplace standards) fails to apply. Girls in their early teens are often pressured to work long hours for little to no pay. On occasion, these models, thousands of miles from home, are even pushed by adults to compromise their morals and beliefs.

The Model Alliance believes that models deserve the same fair treatment as in any other workforce. Their mission is to support the enforcement of existing child labor laws, give models redress for issues of sexual harassment and encourage a safe and healthy work environment. These are not extreme demands, they are basic human rights.

Both Vogue and the CFDA have worked hard over the years to improve the working conditions of models, despite the fact that it’s not their primary mandate. There has been quantifiable change for the better and there is no doubt in my mind that the Model Alliance will prove to be the extra push needed to expedite the changes we all hope to see.

Tonight was an amazing stepping stone in the right direction. As Jenna Sauers said, “If we’ve had a single goal, it has been to create the organization that we wished had existed when we were young models.” As I looked out into the audience, I was so proud to see models of my generation like Doutzen Kroes and Crystal Renn in attendance, and I’m sure they would agree with Jenna that we have all needed the Model Alliance for a long time.

 Two years ago this month I very publicly discussed my concerns regarding the industry in an open letter and concluded by saying: There are natural human standards in how we treat one another and how we treat children. There are those who continue to trample on these standards, but there are also champions of a better way.”  Today we have another powerful champion in the form of The Model Alliance and I thank the amazing Sara Ziff for allowing me to join the board of advisors. It’s Sara’s unique vision and passion that has resulted in this idea becoming a reality. For far too long modeling has been like the Wild West - an unregulated and dangerous place for many. I’m so proud of the Model Alliance and all the models who showed up tonight. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for yourself.

For more information - www.modelalliance.org

*Big thanks to Smirnoff Vodka for sponsoring the event tonight.