How to avoid exploitation as a model

Unfortunately every year thousands of young girls are exploited unwittingly by unscrupulous modelling agencies that are only out to make a fast buck. To avoid the pitfalls of these agencies make sure that the one you choose has a good reputation in the industry and amongst fellow models. One pointer in determining the reputability of an agency is to remember that agencies are not allowed to advertise to the public under the industry’s code of ethics, therefore if the agency you are considering is advertising for models this is not a very good sign. Agencies instead recruit their models largely through open calls, where once a week models have the opportunity to go and meet with agents. A model may then be asked to join the agency at this meeting, but no money should be required from you at this time. When entering into a contract with the modelling agency, make sure you have a lawyer look through it before signing, and that the contract includes termination clauses for both parties. If you are chosen to work, modelling agencies should not ask for money from you upfront but rather take 20% commission off all jobs you receive. If you are asked for money before this, alarm bells should ring. Other characteristics to look out for when choosing representation is that reputable companies will not intimidate you in any way, or pressure you to accept certain types of work. They will also not engage in sycophancy or promise that you will get work through them. These are all things that exploitative agencies are renowned for doing. If you are offered a contract by an agency, always go and discuss it with an impartial third party first before accepting anything.

Once you have found a reputable agency and have been signed, you must then make sure you are not exploited whilst out on jobs. This can be done by being vigilant at all times and being wary when asked to do things that you are not comfortable with. Make sure you protect yourself as a priority, even if it means you may lose the job. Report any suspicious clients back to the agency who may investigate them and choose not to work with them in future.

Unscrupulous agencies are very skilled at being underhand, and sometimes being exploited is unavoidable even when you think you have signed with a reputable agency. If you feel you may have been exploited contact the police immediately if you have been promised work that hasn’t materialised, or if unauthorised charges are being made to your credit card. You should also contact your credit card company to cancel the card. Other actions you should take are; contact the newspaper you saw the advertisement for the modelling agency in, and report their behaviour; record the names of the people you spoke to at the agency and what they promised you; report the business to industry services that look after the interests of models, and to the Department of Trade and Industry, to catalogue your complaint about this particular company