Fashion casting in the sights of the National Assembly?

The Judith Godrèche affair has had a ripple effect on the world of fashion. Questioning the place of children and minors in an industry run by adults and subject to growing hypersexualization.

Photo credit: The Claws Models

In 1980, Calvin Klein cast 15-year-old model Brooke Shield in an advertisement. Largely a minor, the teenager found herself sexualized in a landmark spot that created considerable controversy at the time. Forty years later, the fashion industry has been regulated by laws, particularly in France, which regulate the work of minors. A collective agreement does exist but as Perrine Goulet, Modem Deputy for the 1st constituency of Nièvre, President of the parliamentary delegation for Children’s rights, points out, it only regulates questions related to salary for models under 16 years old. . The Judith Godrèche affair, which accuses the director Jacques Doillon of having sexually assaulted her on the set of “La Fille de 15 ans”, released in 1989, when she was only 14 years old, pushed several deputies to wanting to better regulate the work of minors on film sets but also in fashion. A resolution along these lines has just been proposed to the National Assembly. She says in part this:

“Cinema is not the only industry linked to the world of culture which is concerned. Other accusations of sexual violence against minors target, for example, live performance, primarily theater and music which saw the emergence of the #Metoothéâtre and #Musictoo movements; but also the fashion industry. The place of the child, the relationship to the image and to his body, and the relationship between the child and adults are characteristics common to all of these industries where children can be exposed to the same dangers. Besides sexual violence, the question of the protection of children who work on film sets, who parade and pose for magazines or who perform on stage alongside adults arises. It is necessary to ensure their protection from all forms of abuse, whether sexual, physical or psychological”.

ANCHORED: First of all, can you explain to us what a resolution is (unlike a law)?

Perrine Goulet, Modem Deputy for the 1st constituency of Nièvre, President of the parliamentary delegation for Children’s rights and co-signatory of the proposed resolution: Unlike a law, a resolution has no binding value. Constitutional law No. 2008-724 of July 23, 2008 introduced article 34-1 into the Constitution which authorizes assemblies to vote on resolutions. A resolution is an act by which the Assembly issues an opinion on a specific question.

Laws already regulate the work of minors in the world of fashion, cinema and even music. What will your resolution propose new?

Chapter IV of the Labor Code already provides for a section on child labor in entertainment, traveling professions, audiovisual, advertising and fashion (Articles L7124-1 to L7124-35), but it is not quite precise. Francesca Pasquini’s motion for a resolution, which I co-signed, proposes the creation of a commission of inquiry to assess the situation of minors working in the cinema, live performance and fashion industries, and identify the mechanisms and the failures allowing possible abuse and violence against these children, and establishing the responsibilities of each actor in this matter. Recommendations will be issued once the commission of inquiry is created.

You want to create a commission of inquiry made up of 30 members. Who will these 30 members be?

To date, the names of the 30 members of the commission of inquiry have not yet been known. To form a commission of inquiry, the proposed resolution must be voted on. The PPR will be discussed in committee before being put to the vote on May 2, 2024. If it is adopted on May 2, each group, in proportion to their representativeness, will appoint the deputies who will sit in this commission of inquiry.

How will these checks be carried out? What concrete actions do you want to implement on the ground?

It is necessary to put in place prevention actions to inform young people of acceptable behavior. It could be considered to involve families more during castings, to appoint referents or intimacy coordinators to explain things to children, to define training and obligations to respect training to work with children… The commission investigation will make it possible to define a more precise framework on practices in the area.

Each Paris Fashion Week, more than a hundred shows take place, between the official calendar of the Fashion Federation and those outside it. How do you think you manage to manage such important events?

To successfully supervise the numerous fashion shows that take place during each Paris Fashion Week, it is already necessary to review the existing collective agreements, and indeed there have been agreements since 2004, and although they have undergone modifications in 2012 and 2023, these mainly focus on remuneration issues. It is therefore necessary to review these conventions to adapt them to current issues and ensure adequate protection of minors. (National collective agreement for adult models and child models under 16 years old employed by modeling agencies of June 22, 2004. Extended by decree of April 13, 2005 JORF April 27, 2005)

Vogue Paris has launched a modeling competition aimed at girls aged over 16 and under 25, proof that the fashion world values ​​and idolizes underage girls. Many models are spotted when they are minors. Should this be more regulated?

Hiring minors to promote age-appropriate clothing might be acceptable. However, problems related to social networks, hypersexualization and excessive exposure require more precise supervision to avoid abuse. Hearings can help harmonize rules across agencies.

In the future, are you aiming to regulate the work of minors in the fashion and cinema industries with a new law? If so, what issues seem most important to you today?

Perhaps it would be relevant to question the specific provisions for minors working in these sectors. And there, a legislative development could be relevant. But that is all the work of the commission of inquiry.

April 1, 2024

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