MDC: Why do you think it took so long for an organization like the Model Alliance to be created?
SARA: This isn’t the first time that models in the U.S. have tried to organize for fair labor standards. In 1995, models formed a union, the Models’ Guild, but it didn’t get very far. The biggest hurdle for models is that generally (not across the board, but in most cases) we’re considered to be independent contractors, which basically means that the rule of law in terms of workplace standards does not exist for models.
The Model Alliance is not a union; it’s a nonprofit organization that’s working cooperatively with the industry to make this business a safer, healthier, and generally better place. Models just want to be treated fairly at work, with the same dignity and respect that eveyone else in this business deserves. And I think now we’re at a time when the industry is realizing that this is needed, that it’s important. And that letting models stand up for themselves can only be a good thing for the industry as a whole.
Sara Ziff speaking to MDC. The big question here is, and as she put it: will the industry work cooperatively? If i'm a betting man I would bet against the answer to be yes. From my personal observation and reading on the modeling industry's history, there is no hint that this could be accomplished, fully. The modeling industry is a lion's den, and unless God himself tames these lions, they will continue to devour. Why? Because this is an industry that deals with flesh, flesh that first entices, and second feeds the human sexual appetite. Do many photographers have dignity and self constraints? Sure. But many also don't. And the same applies to models. Many are so hungry to be a model that they will loosen their moral standards, to have a chance to be a model. They will whore if neccessary. I believe the fault lies on both sides of the isle. But more so on the pro's side than on the model's. She after all is young and impressionable, and sadly, as young people usually are, too trusting. She does not know any better because she lacks life's experiance, and her character is not fully developed. That's where a parents/guardians role should kick in, but many times don't for different reason. So... I hope this alliance thing works, but this is a case where I think the power of the law should be involved. If a photographer knows his dick can be cut off I guarantee you there is a better chance he'll behave himself. This is an extreme example, but you get the point.
Sara later says this:
I don’t think anyone in this business is malicious, but people’s concern for maintaining their status breeds an individualistic ethos, which, in turn, doesn’t leave room for much empathy for models’ rights.
No one in this business is malicious? No one? I think she's either naive, or she's playing political and not wanting to lose leverage in this industry, by going all out. I see this to be the first crack in the alliance.