18 & Over: Fighting Underage Modeling

Youth- one of the most celebrated, beautiful parts of life. It is easily something that people look back on and admire. What is there not to love about such a concept? From a tale of sweet innocence, to a metamorphosis of a adolescent coming of age, youth is one of the highlights of our lives. The beauty of youth is also celebrated in the industry we all know and love, the fashion industry. However, an industry so cut throat can also damage youth just as much as it can praise it. The fashion and modeling industry excite media, fashionistas, and even the average viewers on a daily basis.

Models all over the world experience perks personally and get to show most of these perks off to the whole wide world. Supermodel Lauren Hutton once stated, “I became a model to see the world, to make enough money to travel and experience other cultures, I knew I had to get to New York to get to Africa.” Aside from traveling to fashion capitals such as New York, Milan, Paris, London and many more, models also get the reward of wearing luxury haute-couture designs, networking with some of the biggest names in the industry and get paid in the process! However, modeling has often been thought of as a “silent” career where women are supposed to be seen and not exactly heard. There are many groups inside the industry that are being silenced but the one that has been grabbing people’s attention are the under-aged models.

Reaching your full potential as an adolescent requires you to learn about yourself, grow stronger, and be mentally and physically healthy. It is very difficult to do so in a fast paced industry such as the fashion industry. While many beautiful garments come out of the fashion industry, backstage can sometimes be a dark and crazy blur. For example, Karlie Kloss, who started modeling at age 13, spoke in an interview about being a teen top model for The Telegraph UK. She spoke about the excitement of wearing her Dior dress at prom, but also the exhaustion of doubling her job and school. “I would jump back and forth on a daily basis. I would leave St.Louis at 5 am, get to New York by 8am, shoot, and head back to the airport for school the next day. Or, I would be doing the couture shows in Paris over the weekend, and then back in St. Louis for my chemistry class on Monday,” said Kloss.


Not only is the time of work and travel exhausting on the adult body but it is significantly hard on the growing body for teens and influences their school life, especially in terms of peer pressure. Kate Moss, a supermodel who started her career at age 14, spoke on the pressure she felt posing topless as a teen model. I still always was like ‘can I just put some clothes on?’ But, you know, that was the job, so I just did it. Models don’t have to do it if they don’t want to; I wouldn’t let my daughter do it. I look at her now and she’s 15, and to think that I was going topless at her age is crazy.” stated Moss.

Pressures like these can negatively effect a young person’s confidence. Not only to models have to face the aforementioned pressures, but in the industry more and more incidents of sexual assault have come to light, most of those without recourse. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Conde Nast is ensuring ways to help; such as giving models private spaces to dress and working towards a more harassment free-zone. Publications are also taking a step in keeping the working age at 18, attaching the quote, “No model under the age of 18 will be photographed for editorial.” The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Vogue, and other big names are working on the issue to fight under-age models from going through the life-changing and dramatic events that the fashion industry can bring onto them and try to persuade those eager to get into the industry, to not get too early of a start on their modeling career.  

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