It's a story that anyone who's watched a runway show can attest to: the fashion world is obsessed with youth, and the best way to tap into that ideal is through young models. Underage models like Luka Sabbat (age 17) and Lily-Rose Depp (16) have become fresh new icons in their respective fashion scenes; Sabbat modeling in Yeezy Season 1 and around NYFW:M, and Depp modeling in Chanel's Autumn/Winter 2015-16 show. But following a new bill recently introduced to Congress, that habit may become a federal issue.
Introduced by New York representative Grace Meng, the Child Performers Act of 2015 would provide underage workers—and especially models—a new layer of protection when it comes to their employers. The bill would help regulate working hours, dictate salaries, and give children a more private route when dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Meng told The New York Times, "Working as a child model or actor can be an incredible opportunity and lead to success for a lifetime. However, the work can come with much risk. Although there are a patchwork of disparate state laws, these regulations offer inconsistent protections. That’s why we need a national standard."
Meng's not joking either. When it comes to child labor laws, while some states—like New York and California—have passed laws that directly target issues that kids in the workforce come across, it's hardly a uniform policy. The CFDA, for example, has a policy that requests employers to "check I.D.s" and sets working hours, but their guidelines are hardly enforceable on a meaningful level.
The bill isn't anywhere near a federal law yet, but Meng remains positive—telling the New York Times, "When you bring it to people’s attention, they are very concerned."