Modelling Workers’ Rights: Model and Community Organizer Sara Ziff Speaks Up For Models’ Rights in the Fashion Industry

Greig de Peuter. 2012. “Modelling Workers’ Rights: Model and Community Organizer Sara Ziff Speaks Up For Models’ Rights in the Fashion Industry.” Shameless, June 11.

Working as a model has always seemed to promise a lifestyle of fame, fortune, and luxury. Remember supermodel Linda Evangelista’s famous quip, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”? This is not what most of us think of when we think about work. The Model Alliance aims to disrupt these superficial assumptions and expose the decidedly less glamorous aspects of modelling, which are deeply tied to issues of workers’ rights. The Model Alliance is a non-profit labour organization founded by model Sara Ziff, who after co-directing the 2010 documentary Picture Me, decided it was time to do something about the labour challenges models face. These challenges include working for free, a lack of basic labour protections, child labour, racism, sexual abuse, a lack of financial transparency by modelling agencies, physically impossible beauty standards, and a range of other pressures faced by women in this highly competitive, fickle industry …

In December 2011, Sara Ziff was interviewed by Greig de Peuter, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University who is researching labour organizing among media and cultural workers. They spoke about working conditions, organizing strategies, and the challenge of making concrete change in an industry built on images.

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Image credit: The Model Alliance