Actress and former model Jennifer Sky has written a heartbreaking account of her time as a teen model, and says that she still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of her modeling career.
Sky describes moving to Tokyo at age 15 to live for two months in an apartment provided by her modeling agency. With no adult supervision, Sky was left to find her away around Tokyo without the help of an interpreter (or a smart phone). She was similarly unsupervised and unsupported when she moved to New York City at 16 to live in a cramped apartment with five other young models, where she had access to endless alcohol, parties, and exploitation of her body. As she became more established in her career, things seemed to get much worse:
Countless questionable things happened to me during my time as a model. From neglect to molestation to topless photo shoots to men exposing themselves to being made to stand in a freezing pool until I turned blue, I would be abused for the entirety of my career.
Sky began to feel anxious about even leaving her own home, and developed hyper awareness, “hair-trigger panic, and dissociation—all symptoms of PTSD. While Sky is receiving treatment, she says she still experiences some symptoms today.
This article couldn’t be more timely—as Sky points out, New York Fashion Week begins this week, and for the first time, big agencies aren’t sending out their youngest models. A bill is awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s signature (after being passed unanimously in the state Senate) that would close “a loophole exempting models from child-labor regulations — twelve-hour workdays, required chaperones, mandatory tutoring, and more — that are in place for kid actors, dancers, and musicians.”
Articles like Sky’s put a human face on a business that has been rampant with exploitation and abuse, it’s heartening to see that legislation is being put in place to protect the industry’s victims. Sky is hardly the first model to be abused or taken advantage of, and its time for the modeling industry to be properly monitored and held accountable. In the meantime, it would appear that agencies are taking note of the new order and holding back their youngest models until the bill is signed into law and the new regulations are put in place. About time.
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