A bill that would require new health and workplace safety standards for models passed its first vote in a California Assembly committee on Wednesday.
At the hearing, former models told industry horror stories about teenagers living on one rice cake a day, and a culture of sexual harassment and exploitation.
"We keep getting told that our concerns are not legitimate," said Sara Ziff, a former model who runs the advocacy group, the Model Alliance. "We're asking for very basic things, like to be paid for our work, for there to be financial transparency, to have protection against sexual harassment."
The bill requires state health regulators to develop new workplace standards for models, in consultation with the industry. That's more vague than an earlier draft, which mandated physicians certify model health.
The measure also requires print and fashion models be classified as employees, not contract workers. It would not apply to models in television commercials. Anyone setting up modeling jobs would have to receive a state license, including managers.
Talent agencies oppose the bill. They argue those changes won't meaningfully address problems in the industry, but would add complicated regulations.
"The bill does nothing, absolutely nothing to solve the problem that you heard today," said Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents. "And it is unworkable."
The legislation moves to the Assembly Appropriations committee.
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