It's no secret: Modeling isn't exactly constant jet-setting glamour, parties, and free clothes. From a lack of legal protection to less-than-ideal compensation, it can be a rough gig. But we always assumed that once you make it big, those problems go away fast — who would dare mess with an industry icon like, say, Coco Rocha?
Well, we thought wrong. She's one of the most recognizable names and faces in fashion right now, and she's done everything from couture to reality TV. And best of all, she's an advocate for The Model Alliance, a group fighting for model's rights and educating fresh faces about what they can do to take control of their careers. While speaking about the modeling business at Columbia Law School yesterday, Coco explained that despite her pro status, she's made a lot of the mistakes she warns against — like not having a copy of her own contract until very recently. But she's stuck to her guns, and even though she's known for having one of the most specific contracts out there, she's made it work: "When I first started modeling, I was told I needed to do pretty much anything to be successful. I had to pick, do I want to be successful? Or do I want to keep to my morals and my values, which, to me, was very important; but I was 14, so I was very easily persuaded." But she eventually told her agent: "This is who I am. Can you work with this? If not, I'll just go back and be an Irish dancing nerd."
The craziest part of her story? Even Coco has to fight to get paid. She says she's still waiting on a paycheck from 2006. Though she seems to be getting by without it, it's just ridiculous that the players in this industry don't have the same standards that every other business has (though actors frequently experience the same problem both in NYC and in LA). All we can say is this: Props to Coco for having the guts to stand up for herself and her fellow models, at her own risk. Here's to hoping her influential voice gets heard by the people with the power to change things.