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Models Sue Agencies for Financial Abuses and More

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

It seems like a dream, being beautiful and getting paid bank to just look good. But as anyone who has ever been up close to the modeling or fashion industries will say, there is a high price to pay for participating in the game of glamour. Certainly, that is what a complaint filed by 8 models suing their former agencies states, according to the New York Post.

In a class-action lawsuit filed by 8 models against 6 major agencies in a New York state court in Manhattan recently, the young beauties reveal how agencies take advantage of their youth and beauty, financially and otherwise. While one lawyer for one agency has already dismissed the complaint as the whining of wannabes, the filing does shed light on some seemingly shady practices.

Beauty and the Beasts

"There's nothing beautiful about the way the modeling industry in New York City treats its models," former J. Crew model and lead plaintiff Alex Shanklin says in the suit against 6 agencies. Shanklin and her class, 7 other models who claim they were taken advantage of, argue that agencies bilk models by overcharging them for apartments and other expenses, and more.

The models say their agencies book them for jobs and set them up in apartments -- 8 or more models to a place, sleeping in bunk beds -- and then charge them each $1,850 a month for rent. But that's just the financial part of the story.

At the heart of this complaint is a claim that agencies push girls to do dangerous and bizarre things in order to be thin and to be seen with the right people. One woman was told to break up with her boyfriend serving in the military in Afghanistan and to find a man who can advance her socially and professionally.

The Agency Response

Only one agency lawyer commented on the suit so far, according to reports. The lawyer for Click claims the models are just complaining because they are wannabes whose stars never shined. He said that all the agencies have already moved to dismiss the suit.

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