We all know the fashion industry can be gruelling, working from sunrise to sunset on a shoot with very little breaks. For some reason this hardcore schedule is accepted with deadlines to meet, high standards to obtain and extra costs to avoid. However, the demanding itinerary needs to slowdown especially with teens involved. With very little voice in the industry and eagerness to please, teen models get overlooked forgetting their young age. Too often, adolescents get treated as adults yet with little experience and confidence they are not equipped to cope with such an exhausting industry. Teens should work reasonable hours to ensure they do not become overwhelmed and suffer with fatigue.
Vlada Dzyuba’s Devastating Story
After a 13-hour fashion show in Shanghai, the 14-year-old Russian model collapsed. Falling into a coma, she was rushed to hospital where she later died. The cause of death is believed to be meningitis and exhaustion due to the long hours she had been working during her three-month stint in China. She was supposed to be only working three hours a week. However, her modelling contract expected her to work for much longer.
Prior to walking in the show, Vlada had a high temperature. She didn’t have medical insurance and felt scared to attend a hospital despite her mother’s pleas for her to go. Imagine working in a country where you don’t speak the language and are feeling very ill. With loved ones far away, it would feel impossible to reach out for help.
Teens Need a Voice
Her devastating case has raised concerns of teenager’s involvement in the fashion world. It is vital that these young models have a voice in the industry and are not treated badly. The terrible ordeal must cause a shift in the way that the industry operates with teen models working much less hours with regular breaks.
Many feel too intimated and scared to speak out about an issue and therefore, need an adult representative. Whether, this is a parent or agency, teens need to be able to explain the issue and for an adult to support. The underlying issue is that teens are not mature and confident enough to stick up for themselves. Their desperation and eagerness to be a model overrules the poor working conditions. Vlada was reportedly being paid a measly £6.30 a day after her expenses were deducted from her income; a job that essentially cost her life! It is a too high price to pay. Aspiring models should be supported by industry experts rather than exploited.
As parents, it is reassuring to know that you have control over your son or daughters career until the age of 18. A modelling agency, designer or company requires your approval to work in the industry. Therefore, you are their voice. Do not let them work in these conditions or travel alone. Accompany them to every photoshoot and show to have complete control over what your teen does or doesn’t do. If you are unsure about contracts and whether you should sign, seek professional advice.
Symptoms of Exhaustion
Both teens and parents should learn the signs of exhaustion so that you can seek medical attention immediately. It can be difficult to spot with symptoms similar to tiredness. Also, it is vital that models fully understand what they require before boarding the plane. If travelling to a country where medical insurance is needed, it is so important that models are insured for the duration of their stay.
Fatigue is known to effect the body in many ways mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Chronic tiredness
- Sore or aching muscles
- Slowed reflexes and responses
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired hand-to-eye coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Blurred vision
- Lack of concentration
- Low motivation
If you notice that your teen is suffering from any of these symptoms, treatment for exhaustion is needed before it escalates. Simple measures like rest, drinking enough water and eating healthily can help if symptoms are spotted at the beginning of the illness. With their parent by their side, medical insurance and the right treatment their condition with improve. But lets hope it doesn’t get to this stage in the first place. Also, it is important to consider jet lag. Make sure your teen gets enough sleep as with long flights and time differences they could start to feel unwell.
New York State Law
To protect young models from working too many hours causing them to burnout, New York State passed a law back in 2013. It states that models aged under 18 can’t work after midnight on school nights to guarantee enough sleep. It is urged that designers do not hire models under 16 and that those under 18 do not work a second past 12:00am.
However, Vlada was able to model at Shangai Fashion Week under Chinese Law. The Chinese agency claims that Vlada was not working over 8 hours per day with models working much longer hours than her. Until the investigation has been completed it is difficult to work out. However, negligence is definitely a factor here. With so many Russian girls working in China, the industry has a responsibility to look into what happened to prevent a repetition of this tragedy.
What You Should Do
As a parent it is important that you are clued up on all aspects of the industry. Make sure that you read and fully understand every contract so that you are fully equipped with everything that your child needs. This could be medical insurance (like in this case), travel insurance, suitable accommodation etc. Read every paragraph, even terms and conditions, to ensure that nothing is missed.
If you teen is a model, then your life does become very much a part of the industry too. Firstly, you have to provide consent for signing to an agency or accepting a role. Therefore, if you are unhappy now is the time to raise concerns. You need to accompany your son or daughter to the shoot to make sure they are safe and well. Your teen will trust you and feel much more at ease in your presence. It is a big responsibility but when lives are at risk it is a must.