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Child Model Legislation

by Anny Mok and Lisa Willis

On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, a bill recognizing runway and print models under the age of eighteen as "child performers" passed both houses of the New York state legislature. See a summary of the Assembly bill here. The bill is awaiting Governor Cuomo's signature to officially become law. Previously, New York law recognized child actors, writers, musicians, comedians, and dancers as "performers," but not models. Models were excluded from this category, although the statute defined a performer as someone who "renders artistic or creative services."

While the NYS Department of Labor protects other child performers through regulations regarding education, health, and finances, some argue that child models, who are covered by the Department of Education regulations, did not receive comparable protection. Supporters of the bill contend that this limited protection, and under-enforcement of the existing Department of Education regulations, have led to systemic unsatisfactory working conditions and harmful outcomes for this vulnerable group, including onerous work schedules, lack of financial transparency, models foregoing their education, development of eating disorders, and sexual harassment and abuse.

With the new bill, child models will now receive the same protections and benefits afforded other child performers, includingchaperones for models under sixteen, tutors, limits on work hours and mandatory trust accounts.

The Model Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for improvement in the working conditions of models, and co-sponsor of our On the Heels of the Week event, was the primary force behind the new bill. Sara Ziff, model and founder of the Model Alliance, participated on our panel, as did Paula N. Viola, an FLC member, former model, and Model Alliance supporter and Doreen Small, a member of the Model Alliance advisory board. Sara, Paula and Doreen all appeared at the press conference announcing the legislation. To view the press conference and for more information about the legislation, visit the Model Alliance's website at www.modelalliance.org.

For more information and background about the issues facing young models, see Craig Tepper's article in the upcoming Summer issue of the EASL Journal.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 18, 2013 1:27 PM.

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