breaking into the industry is expensive for models

A recent report found many models are financially exploited and receive little of their own pay.

by Wendy Syfret
12 May 2016, 12:47pm

Most people likely assume that modelling is all champagne and gift bags, but anyone who has spent time being professionally good-looking can tell you it's an expensive world to live in. A recent CNNMoney investigation breaks down the processes that are leaving a lot of young men and women in a considerably disadvantaged financial position. While a big commercial job can pay thousands of dollars for a few days work, the reality is that often the model sees very little of that cash.

Conservatively, most models hand 20 percent of their earnings to their agencies. This is a standard deal that covers their expenses and allows the businesses to make a profit. But issues arise when individuals are saddled with additional, hidden expenses as well as being left with the bill for their own travel, housing, photos and PR. The investigation found that models regularly also had additional fees deducted from their pay without their knowledge, often for services they hadn't elected or been given a chance to refuse. Examples ranged from the regular to the ridiculous —including comp cards, space on the company's website, gifts for clients, and in one case flowers an agency sent a model for her own birthday.

A lot of underhanded action is possible because models aren't technically classified as employees, but rather contractors to their agencies. Because of this, they're able to slip under the radar of national employment laws and the protections they offer. They aren't guaranteed a minimal wage, fair working hours, overtime, nor do they have the support of a union to help when things go awry. Obviously not all agencies are out to exploit those on their books; many are supportive second homes to their models. But the stark realities are worth keeping in mind next time you flip through a magazine and feel a tinge of envy. Your life might not be as glamorous, but your regular job probably offers considerably more financial stability.


Text Wendy Syfret
Image via Flickr