Through an exciting academic-community-government partnership, STRIPED worked with the National Eating Disorders Association, Model Alliance, and Assemblymember Marc Levine to introduce what may be the first bill in the United States to directly address the problem of coerced starvation and eating disorders in the fashion industry to protect the health and well-being of professional models. This bill, California AB 2539, clarified that all modeling agencies should operate under the Talent Agency Act, which provides necessary worker protections for models. This bill also clarified that models are employees of the brands they represent, rather than independent contractors, ensuring that models are granted worker protection rights that all employees have in the U.S. CA AB 2539 was sparked by STRIPED legal research led by Katherine Record, STRIPED Collaborating Mentor, reported in the recent American Journal of Public Health article “‘Paris thin’: A call to regulate life-threatening starvation of runway models in the U.S. fashion industry.”
Unfortunately, despite strong support for the bill among models, their families, and many other organizations and individuals, CA AB 2539 was held in suspense by the California Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday, May 27, 2016, and so will not be considered for a vote by the full Assembly this year. We would like to thank Assemblymember Marc Levine and his dedicated staff, Model Alliance, National Eating Disorders Association, Nikki DuBose, Cassandra Soltis, and all the advocates for CA AB 2539 for their hard work on this incredibly important legislation. Congratulations on taking the first step towards protecting fashion models in California. While California lawmakers have said no to protecting models for the time being, we will not give up our fight until we achieve labor rights and health and safety standards in the modeling industry.