Another area in which modelling and law intersect is the use of children as models.
Although outsiders often view the fashion industry as enchanting, alluring and attractive, the reality is very different from models in the industry, especially child models.
Some have mentioned the persistent problems of sexual abuse. Others have examined the horrible working conditions, as all but glamorous.
We must not forget that a huge chunk of the fashion industry is child labour.
The modelling business is today unregulated and relies on the labour force of children.
Many speak of the infamous topless shoot that launched Kate Moss’s career. She was only 16 when she was told that she could lose her job, if she didn’t take off her top, she explains:
” they were like: if you don’t do it, then we’re not going to book you again, so I locked myself in the toilet and cried and then come out and did it. I never felt very comfortable about it.”
It is said by many, that unfortunately what happened to Kate Moss over 20 years ago, is still happening.
While child actors, dancers and singers are protected by the Department of Labour Regulations in various countries, children who are fashion models are not.
The UK government regulations state that the youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in modelling. Children working in modelling need a performance license.
Children can only start full-time work once they have reached a minimum school leaving age – they can then work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.
In England, a young person must be in the part-time education or training until they’re 18.
Labour laws in the UK and under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 state that Children under 15 and above, but school leaving age are permitted to work during school term 12 hours a week and during school holidays 25 hours a week for under 15-year-olds and 35 hours a week for over 15-year-olds but under the school leaving age.
In France, there are strict rules regarding the employment of minors under 16.
The United States similarly regulate employment laws for minors under the age of 16. According to the Department of Labour there is an absolute prohibition to employing 14 and 15-year-olds during school hours before 7 AM and 7 PM; more than three hours a day on a school day including Fridays, more than eight hours a day on a normal school day, more than 18 hours a week during a school week; more than 40 hours a week during normal school weeks.
There are also occasional requirements of work permits.
Interestingly, in New York, they recognise that fashion models are excluded from the Department of Labour. Instead, models under 18 years, fall within the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and afforded modest protection, with specific working hours which are rarely observed or enforced.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary in the U.K., has said: “It has been a profound shock to discover the extent to which child labour has reappeared in our country. We can and we will eliminate it, providing everyone at every level of society does what they can to help. No man, woman or child should be left to suffer through modern slavery.”
Yet, for now, modern child exploitation (in this case – modelling) remains largely behind closed doors. We must work together to force them open.