An Ex-Model on the Culture of Modeling: Get Kids Off the Runway


Model Alliance

Sarah Ziff, who founded the Model Alliance, speaks out.

The former model Sarah Ziff, creator of the behind-the-scenes documentary, Picture Me, which depicted an honest portrait of the ups and downs of modeling, penned a piece for the BBC which we think is just terrific.  In her continuing efforts to effect change in the fashion industry, Ziff makes a few key points:

  • First and foremost, Ziff cites the problem of a “Peter Pan syndrome” in the industry.  The models are too young and they stay too young, making it hard for adult women to view them and believe, body-wise, that it’s ever okay to grow up.
  • The public’s superficial criticism of very thin models is pretty pointless.  Telling someone to “eat a hamburger” doesn’t change anything in fashion.
  • More pressing than addressing whether models under 18 years old should be permitted to work is the issue of the conditions in which all models, of any age, have to work.  The conditions are totally unregulated, and Ziff believes it needs to be the first thing to change.
  • As is a problem in many industries, Ziff wants to fight for models to have access to affordable healthcare.  Models: they’re just like us!

Speaking out like this in an ongoing way is incredibly valuable — if any real change is going to be made in fashion, it’s probably going to have to be sparked from within.  Ziff’s 2010 documentary can be credited with helping kick off the current wave of model protection initiatives, including her own Model Alliance, founded last year, and the organization Stand Up For Fashion, started by former model Yomi Abiola, to assist working models and change the culture of fashion.  Now, as even regular members of the public begin to get deeply involved in how models are portrayed, it’s becoming more of a reality that fashion advertising and editorial work will look significantly different in an imaginable future.


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