THE COURAGEOUS CLASS
Those determined individuals who confidently overcome life’s challenges to become the inspiring role models they were meant to be.
Sara Ziff is an American fashion model and labor activist. She is an advocate for better working conditions in the fashion industry, which she has described as “an overlooked frontier of women’s rights and workers’ rights.”
Sara produced the documentary, “Picture Me: A Model’s Diary,” which chronicled her and other models’ lives in an industry that sometimes left them feeling mute. While on the festival circuit in 2009, models would come to Q&A screenings and share their bad experiences, many of which Sara had also experienced herself.
In 2012, with the support of other models, industry leaders, and performers’ unions, Sara formed the Model Alliance, a labor advocacy organization for models working in the American fashion industry. The group set up a grievance reporting service so models had a safe place to air their concerns, including sexual harassment, one-sided contracts, and difficulty getting paid the money they were owed.
In 2013, under Sara’s leadership, the Model Alliance championed the Child Model Act in New York State, which reclassified models under 18 as child performers and extended them basic labor protections, including provisions for maximum working hours and trust accounts. Sara has also collaborated with the White House on efforts to help young people access health care and to prevent sexual assault.
Recently, Sara has conducted research at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to inform policies targeting extreme thinness standards in the fashion industry. With the National Eating Disorders Association, she aims to address concerns about eating disorders both as a labor issue for models and as a greater public health concern.
Since 2012, Sara has also worked with international labor rights organizations to campaign for better working conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh.
A native New Yorker, Sara received her B.A. from Columbia University and M.P.A. from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.