When it was announced that Dolly magazine had resurrected their Model Search competition this year it reignited debate over the appropriate age for young women to enter the industry.
Some suggested that 13-year-old winner Kirsty Thatcher was far too young for the bloody body image battle that apparently awaits her, and others, including the magazine's editor Tiffany Dunk, claim that she's not just a well-proportioned clotheshorse but also a positive role model for the young readership.
While it's a legitimate discussion that will hopefully lead to better safeguards being implemented in terms of workplace supervision and encouraging healthy lifestyles, focussing solely on age keeps the attention away from other equally important concerns facing models today.
Concerns that go largely unchallenged.
For those outside the profession, modelling can seem like nothing more than an easy way to make a crust.
Getting paid to play dress-ups and hang out with half-naked men all day sounds like a dream for some women, and is part of the reason why it's such a coveted career path. But is there more to it than that?
Tanja Gacic was shopping for shoes in New Zealand when, at the age of 15, she was approached by a model scout.
Within a year she was making enough money to move away from home and start travelling - which she says are the best aspects of the profession.
Providing the perfect opportunity to see the world, she adds that while it's more difficult now that she has a young daughter the allure of the modelling world draws her back in every time she thinks of throwing in the towel.
"I have left the industry a couple of times, each time vowing this was it and modelling was behind me for good," she said.
"However, like a beckoning siren calling from the rocks, a fun project would come around and I'd get sucked back in. The truth is I do miss modelling whenever I stop for a while, I really love a lot of people in the industry and the energy is creative and wonderful. Now that my life is more stable and I have a daughter I get to pick and choose and modelling is like a trip into some fantasyland."
Though, when asked if she'd want her daughter to follow her into the profession when she hits her teens, Gacic concedes she'd have some reservations - citing sleazy photographers, long hours, maintaining a certain body shape, living out of suitcases and disjointed relationships as some of the main pitfalls.
"You truly need a thick skin and a good mindset. I am very blasé about most things however for others it can be hard," she said.
"As a model, especially for the younger ones, no one wants your opinion so the job can feel a bit shallow and you can end up feeling objectified most of the time. It's important to keep developing other interests, reading a lot, centring yourself and finding a way to put it all into perspective. Another important thing is to truly learn about nutrition and learn to love exercise. You can stay fit and healthy without starving yourself but it does take work and discipline. I have seen many girls that ended up bulimic or anorexic which terrified me."
In the past, models were generally expected to fend for themselves - a bit tricky when you're new to the business and travelling to foreign countries for the first time.
Putting the onus on the individual also created plenty of opportunity for exploitation by unscrupulous elements within the industry.
But last year a group of models founded The Model Alliance in order to give their peers a voice.
The organisation aims to establish ethical standards to bring about real and lasting change to the industry and improve working conditions.
"I would say the industry sometimes lacks financial transparency, has few mechanisms for dealing with sexual harassment and assault, and has issues regarding the fair treatment of its many underage workers," said board member and former model Jenna Sauers.
"Generally speaking, the modelling industry lacks accountability. And because most models are freelance workers - many of whom come from relatively impoverished countries - they can be treated as if they're replaceable."
Though it's not all doom and gloom. Sauers shares Gacic's belief that modelling can afford young women some truly great experiences; she just wishes they weren't tarnished by irresponsible and potentially harmful working conditions.
"One of the first things we did at the Model Alliance was start Model Alliance Support, our free and discreet reporting service for models who need assistance or advice about inappropriate on-the-job conduct," she said.
"Any model anywhere in the world can talk to one of our volunteer legal experts about any workplace issue - you can even talk to them anonymously. And we're also working with agencies and organizations like the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) to raise awareness about these issues and help foster a working environment with greater accountability and fairness for all of its workers."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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