New York models file class-action lawsuit against agencies for starving them during photo shoots

Is it the secret to achieving a model’s physique?
By @vitthernandez on
Photo Shoot
An aspiring model poses for a photo shoot during auditions for a transgender/transsexual modelling agency set to open in New Delhi, India, February 7, 2016. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Several fashion models in New York have filed a class-action lawsuit against modelling agencies in New York for mistreating and cheating them. Among the accusations they hurled is that they are not given any food during photo shoots that lasts 12 to 14 hours.

Body positivity is one of the issues that the fashion industry is beginning to address. Sports Illustrated, for instance, got a 56-year-old, plus-size and British-Nigerian models for its 2016 swimsuit edition to highlight that models do not have to follow the old standard of being young and wafer-thin to be included in a fashion show or commercial shoot.

However, other agencies are not that enlightened and over the years have “abused” their talents, accuses Vanessa Perron, a 31-year-old model. Perron is one of those who filed the class-action lawsuit with the Manhattan Supreme Court, reports The New York Post.

“When we asked [to eat], we were told, ‘Oh, you’re a model, you’re not supposed to eat,” quotes Perron. Besides not given food during photo shoots, Perron recalls that even if she stands 5’ 11” and she weighed only 110 pounds in 2002, Next Model Management, where she was signed, often told her to change her appearance, including the need to lose weight, whiten her teeth, tan her skin and colour her hair at her personal expense.

Ironically, Next Model Management has a contract with Tyra Banks' “America’s Next Top Model” (ANTM) search. Banks is one of those pushing for a change in attitude towards model looks by accepting plus-size contestants and sending home anorexic-looking ones.

Skinny Model Models display outfits by Spanish designer Francisco Montesinos during the Spring/Summer 2007-08 Pasarela Cibeles fashion show in Madrid September 17, 2007  Reuters/Susana Vera

Fasting, or not eating food, for a single day could cause multiple symptoms, according to Web MD. It could cause a headache because of hunger pangs, while an empty stomach could lead to heartburn and nausea. It could be emotionally and physically stressful and worsen existing stress.

Another model, 48-year-old Carina Wretman, complains that when she was a model of Wilhelmina talent agency – once linked also to ANTM -  agencies bilked young models by charging them for hair cosmetics, flights and pictures for their portfolios despite the models giving 20 percent commission fee and charging the client another 20 percent.

Perron points out that the world of modeling is not as glitzy and glamorous as it appears because of these malpractices that the class-action lawsuit seeks to address.