Dark side of glam: Models expose sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions in fashion industry
By Belle Carter // Jun 27, 2023

Several fashion models have stepped forward to share their stories of abuse, sexual exploitation, dangerous working conditions and illegal garnishment of wages. They also named several modeling agencies that allegedly set up an environment fostering sexual trafficking and labor trafficking.

Variety's Tatiana Siegel put all these stories of more than a dozen models and other workers in the fashion industry in writing. Among the stories she included was that of Esmeralda Seay-Reynolds, who was 15 when she was first scouted by Click Model Management in New York. However, she was deemed "too mature" – a fashion euphemism that meant "too heavy" – because she had developed curves.

Reynolds, who stood at five-foot-11 and weighed 130 pounds, had to lose 20 pounds immediately. She then signed up for NEXT – a bigger agency – and rose quickly in the scene. The model landed in the pages of Vogue and was featured in campaigns for Chanel and other top couture brands.

But the pressure for her to look and stay eternally thin remained. Reynolds recounted: "I remember my agent saying, 'Cotton balls are organic, so it's fine if you just swallow them to make yourself feel full." Aside from this, she also recalled seeing size zero girls puking their guts backstage during runway shows.

She also recalled being booked for a shoot at 16 years old with a photographer publicly accused of sexual coercion – and receiving only $130 for that six-week shoot. Another instance involved her modeling stark naked in freezing weather, which she was never paid for despite the highly dangerous working conditions.

Reynolds is not alone, however, as the other models Siegel spoke to also mentioned being financially and sexually exploited. The writer also noted that compared to Hollywood talent agencies, modeling firms are considered "management companies" and have exemptions to New York state's labor laws.

Moreover, Siegel noted that modeling agencies typically wield "power of attorney" over their models, allowing them to legally accept payments on their behalf and deduct expenses. These often leave the models more indebted to companies and vulnerable to sexual predators. (Related: Academics received money from Epstein even after the late sex offender's pedophilia conviction.)

NY Senate passes Fashion Workers Act

Siegel mentioned a silver lining amid the stories of exploitation – with the passage of the Fashion Workers Act (FWA) in the New York Senate. The State Senate passed the measure on June 8, and if signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, the FWA will "close the legal loophole that allows management companies to escape accountability."

The FWA was introduced by State Sen. Brad Hoylman and State Assembly member Karines Reyes, with the sponsorship of the Model Alliance. If it becomes law, the FWA would require management agencies to provide models with copies of contracts and agreements and notify formerly represented models if they collect royalties on their behalf.

The measure would protect the health and safety of models by establishing a zero-tolerance policy for abuse. The act would also outlaw practices in the industry such as charging models interest on their earnings, renewing contracts without the model's affirmative consent and taking retaliatory action against a model for filing a complaint.

The New York Assembly did not vote on the bill before its legislative session ended on June 9. But since the bill has garnered bipartisan support and celebrity backers like Beverly Johnson and Helena Christensen, it will likely pass when the Assembly returns.

Follow Trafficking.news and read more about how women and children are being exploited and abused worldwide.

Watch this video about a nine-year-old girl who sues a longtime CNN producer for despicable acts of horrific sexual abuse.

This video is from the Red Voice Media channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Donna Brandenburg: Northern border also hosts "indescribable" human trafficking – Brighteon.TV.

Specials ops troops stunned by Biden admin probe into drug, human trafficking after arrests.

Liz Crokin: Jeffrey Epstein used JPMorgan as main bank for his sex trafficking operation – Brighteon.TV.

Virgin Islands files suit against JPMorgan Chase alleging bank illicitly profited from Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of minors.

Balenciaga apologizes for BDSM-themed ads following massive public backlash.

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