Photo of Ondria Hardin, 14 at the time, via Shutterstock.

The trend of using underage models on the runway is nothing new, but the state of New York is finally taking steps to protect its younger performers. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation this week that will limit work hours for models under 18.

“We might actually have the novel experience of having grown women modeling women’s clothes at New York Fashion Week,” says academic director of the Fashion Law InstituteSusan Scafidi.

About the changing laws, the New York Times writes:

“Models under 18 would not be allowed to work after midnight on a school night for fittings for a runway show, or return to work less than 12 hours after they leave. In some cases, designers would also be required to provide tutors, trust accounts and chaperones when using models under 18.”

The Council of Fashion Designers of American has had guidelines in place since 2011 that attempt to keep girls under 16 from performing in runway shows, but they have been famously ignored. Susan Scafidi hopes these new rules will pack the necessary punch to keep high school girls out of adult fashion shows, noting that working with younger models will require extensive paperwork.

According to The Guardian, “employers that violate these laws face fines starting at $1,000 for the first violation and up to $3,000 for the third. After that, they can lose the privilege to employ child models.”

In an open letter urging Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law, former child model Alise Shoemaker tells the Model Alliance:

“I’m grateful for the opportunities modeling has given me, but currently there is a lack of responsibility for the minors who work as models in New York.” Shoemaker discusses her experiences with sexual assault within the industry, and states, “Young models should be able to pursue careers without having to experience the pitfalls of an unregulated business.”

We’re thrilled that Alise Shoemaker, and many other models in similar situations, will be able to find some peace through this new law.