We here at Fashionista are continually impressed by the efforts the Model Alliance is making to improve working conditions within the industry, so we’re teaming up with them to bring you the latest from their movement. We’ll be hearing from them about everything from broadening child labor laws to changing the sample size. Today, Coco Rocha tells us about her personal struggles in the industry and what makes a good model. Plus, we have an exclusive video of Rocha at a recent Model Alliance event giving young models advice on the importance of having the right agent and avoiding creepy photogs.
I came into this business knowing nothing about fashion. I was a young girl from Vancouver, Canada who wore boot cut jeans and an oversized sweatshirt every day to school. Becoming a model was never an aspiration of mine, but at 14 I was scouted at an Irish dance competition and after some initial resistance found myself modeling in Asia and working on my portfolio.
After that I moved to New York where I found the agents I still work with to this day and started down a path that would lead to working with some of the world’s greatest photographers and designers. I was pulled from relative obscurity and given an amazing international life, but it was not without its ups and downs.
There were times when I was very lonely and felt an enormous pressure from adults around me to give up values and beliefs I held dear. Through trial and error I learned my rights and I learned to stand up for myself. I realized the benefit of an ironclad contract. In my contract today I state that due to my religious beliefs I won’t shoot nude or sheer clothing, or with cigarettes, weapons or religious icons. Even after nearly 10 years I still I find occasions when clients will push the issue, making it uncomfortable for everyone. It gets better though.
As I’ve moved from being a girl to a woman, and now a married woman, I feel more and more confident in my own skin every day. It’s something that comes with age and experience, which is why I wish most models would start a little later than the usual 14 or 15-years-old when they are so vulnerable and easily influenced.