Model Coco Rocha knows a thing or two about the industry, considering the fact that she's been hitting the runway and gracing magazine covers for nearly 10 years now. She recently spoke out about getting discovered, the benefits of an "ironclad contract," why she wishes models weren't quite so young and more ...
I came into this business knowing nothing about fashion. I was a young girl from Vancouver, Canada. Becoming a model was never an aspiration of mine, but at 14 I was scouted. After that, I moved to New York where I found the agents I still work with to this day and started down a path that would lead to working with some of the world’s greatest photographers and designers. I was pulled from relative obscurity and given an amazing international life, but it was not without its ups and downs.
There were times when I was very lonely and felt an enormous pressure from adults around me to give up values and beliefs I held dear. Through trial and error I learned my rights and I learned to stand up for myself. I realized the benefit of an ironclad contract. In my contract today I state that due to my religious beliefs I won’t shoot nude or in sheer clothing, or with cigarettes, weapons or religious icons. Even after nearly 10 years I still I find occasions when clients will push the issue, making it uncomfortable for everyone. It gets better though.
As I’ve moved from being a girl to a woman, and now a married woman, I feel more and more confident in my own skin every day. It’s something that comes with age and experience, which is why I wish most models would start a little later than the usual 14 or 15-years-old when they are so vulnerable and easily influenced.
The reality is, whether I like it or not, most of the modeling work force today is underage, and that’s one reason why I volunteered to join Sara Ziff on the advisory board of the Model Alliance. We believe that models deserve fair treatment in their workplace like any other group of workers. Not only do we aim to establish ethical standards, we also support the enforcement of existing child labor and contract laws, promote financial transparency and redress for issues of sexual harassment.
The girls who last in this industry, the Behati’s, Doutzen’s and Hilary’s, recognize that modeling is a profession, not a lifestyle. They show up on time, work hard, are respectful to everyone they work with and demand the same respect in return. We tell this to the models who are members of the Model Alliance and we hope to become the big brothers and sisters young models need–not only to discuss common issues and concerns, but to work together to champion a better way.