Film grab: Blow Up
Yesterday I mentioned a couple of stories about girls being offered/given drugs on the sets of New Zealand fashion magazine editorials. I've had plenty of responses to that blog - in comments (most of which couldn't be published for fear of defamation suits), and in phone calls and emails. Many have asked me to reveal the names of the magazines, and I've been told that to not do so is to be an advocate of their behaviour. First of all, let me say that I do not advocate any behaviour that involves drugs and minors. Second, short of getting the models or the magazines to go on the record and admit that it all happened, at this stage, there's not a lot I can do. I believe the stories to be true, but I don't have proof. Yet. To go buckwild and start dropping names all over the show would be straight-out defamation and I'd find myself in court quicker than you can say 'Whale Oil'.
But I do want to explore the subject further, so I've enlisted the help Melinda Williams - editor of NO Magazine, and, like me, a former model booker.
This from Melinda:
"As someone who has worked in the fashion industry for over a decade as an editor/writer and former model booker, I do think model vulnerability is a problem here. There are a few people I wouldn’t work with because I’ve heard and seen enough to believe they’re untrustworthy. But to name names in a public forum would leave me open to potential defamation action. When you’re working on second-hand information about illegal activities, you have to be so wary. Also, the industry has a lot of grey areas, and quite a lot of people involved in it may feel like hypocrites to some degree, or that they have been in the past, so they’re not in a position to judge now. So people don’t often speak out formally, but just make private decisions about who they will or won’t work with.
"You hear a lot of stuff, of course, but it’s really hard to know exactly what’s been exaggerated, misconstrued or even fabricated. So although I’ve heard stories of this or that photographer/stylist/magazine staffer/designer giving drugs to, or behaving inappropriately around models on or off-set, I’ve found it quite rare to hear a first-hand account (which is not to say it happens rarely, only that it is not talked about openly, maybe because of fear of victim-blaming). When I was working as a model booker, I never got a direct complaint about that sort of thing, even though we encouraged the models to be open with us. I did know of older models (18+) who socialised with or dated industry heavyweights for the uh, extra-curricular benefits. Because they were technically adults, I regarded it as their business. Perhaps that was a mistake.
"Models are vulnerable to exploitation on a number of fronts (though personally, I feel the weight issue is a more widespread and critical problem), and the only thing that will improve their situation is open discussion from the people who are in a position to do something about it."
So let's have that discussion.
If you are a model and have ever been offered drugs on a shoot or pressured to do anything you didn't want to do, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I will tell your story and I can guarantee you anonymity.
I LIKE YOU!