Which models grace the runways is not only a fashion industry concern—it is also a government concern. We have seen a few bills about “too thin” models being introduced in different parts of the world. Now, there is a bill that has been put forward that wants to ensure the protection of very young models and performers in the United States.
New York Congresswoman Grace Meng has introduced a bill to the House of Representatives entitled the “Child Performers Protection Act of 2015.” If the bill is passed, it could help limit the number of hours young performers are allowed to work. Furthermore, it would mean that underage performers must be compensated with a monetary sum rather than being gifted with clothes and accessories, which is a common practice in the fashion industry. The Child Performers Protection Act of 2015 would also offer private recourse for sexual harassment. If an employer does not adhere to the restriction and rules, the case “shall be treated as oppressive labor.”
The New York Times reports that the Fair Labor Standards Act sets employment standards in the United States, but performers and models under the age of 16 are often exempted, and the regulation is handled on a state-by-state basis. The Child Performers Protection Act of 2015 calls for there to be a national standard. Meng told the New York Times:
“Working as a child model or actor can be an incredible opportunity and lead to success for a lifetime. However, the work can come with much risk. Although there are a patchwork of disparate state laws, these regulations offer inconsistent protections. That’s why we need a national standard.”
Some attempts have been made to protect models from groups such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (or the CFDA, as they’re more commonly known), but they are only able to offer guidelines and there are no real enforcement abilities or repercussions if people do not to adhere to them.
The bill comes to the House floor when the controversy of using very young models is a hot topic in the fashion industry. Fourteen-year-old Sofia Mechetner made headlines around the world when she walked in the Dior Couture runway show. Sixteen-year-old Lily-Rose Depp, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis‘ daughter, is already a Chanel ambassador and starred in an eyewear campaign for the brand. Cindy Crawford‘s 13-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber is also becoming more involved in the modeling industry and has appeared in a few different photo shoots.
The Child Performers Protection Act of 2015 is now being reviewed by the Committee on Education and the Work Force. It will hopefully then make it to the House floor for a vote. The process can be long but the fact that the bill was put forward is a step in the right direction. It shows that models’ and young performers’ rights and safety are being taken seriously.
(Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)