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21 Opinions: Just Say No – Models Don’t Pay


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Written Contributor: M. Todd Burton / Director of The Charlotte Fashion Collective

If you’re a model, your email may frequently be inundated with headlines such as… “You have been selected to walk in NY Fashion Week,” “Be on a billboard in Times Square,” “Walk for a world-renowned designer,” “Be on the cover of a magazine,” “Largest show ever,” “Be part of a professional photoshoot,” “Opportunity awaits,” “Secure your spot now, Paris!!! Milan!!!” Yes, you have seen them all, and indeed, it often sounds exciting. If you’re a parent of a tween or teenage model, then you likely receive twice the emails. And yes, it is all for sale!

This can only be called the “business of hopes and dreams,” and it is time for models to stand up and say NO! It’s time to reject registration fees, walking fees, and mandatory paid rehearsals! Say NO to makeup fees, LookBook Fees, or being coerced into buying the dress you walked in, being forced to purchase tickets, or sell tickets. It’s just plain time to say NO! Show producers line you up with dreams of all the agents that will be in the audience, the great experience you will be getting – OH, WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! You do not want to miss! And my favorite line of all… “You’ve got to invest in yourself!”

Photography credit : Pexel Images

The Carolinas are experiencing a resurgence in the world of fashion modeling, thanks to the incredible talent we possess. While this is undoubtedly a beautiful and positive development, it also makes us susceptible to exploitation and being taken advantage of. Therefore, it’s crucial for us to pause, evaluate every opportunity, and make informed choices about how we proceed. You hold the power to elevate your industry, and it begins by making wise decisions.

How often have you attended an event that lacked provisions such as food or even water for the models? Or one that didn’t provide sufficient space and resources for wardrobe changes? Do not commit to a show before thoroughly assessing the venue. You have the right to ask questions and demand all the details about any show you consider participating in. Will you receive pictures, and is there a cost associated with them? Most shows don’t compensate photographers and offer nothing guaranteed for your time and talent. And speaking of which, photographers should be paid! Runway producers should generate revenue through ticket sales, not by charging the talent. If models are paying, there’s no incentive to deliver an outstanding show – and that’s not an event you want to be part of.

Parents, be cautious. When you bring your 12-year-old to their first model call, and they fall in love with modeling, you become a sought-after entity. This is when the selling of hopes and dreams begins. It’s the time to pause, step back, educate yourselves, and reassess. While there are many fantastic shows to be a part of, you must know what to look for.

Let’s all acknowledge that modeling may not become your primary career. With approximately 3,200 active working models in the US and 13,000 worldwide, the odds are limited. However, this should not deter you from pursuing modeling because every time you step onto the runway, you are an artist and a success. Embrace your gift and share it with the world. Modeling has no age limitations, and you never have to say, “Well, I gave it a shot.” When we recognize our value collectively, it becomes easier to say YES, YES, YES!

But this journey starts with saying NO! #ModelsDontPay

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