London, Dec 16 (ANI): A huge number of models in Paris, who pose in the buff and perform as muses for artists, took to the streets in a nude march on December 15 to protest the fact that they are not respected or paid enough.
The models went on strike and posed naked in freezing temperatures in front of Paris city hall's culture department to shame the state, and their demand was a pay increase, proper contracts and, most of all, respect for their craft.
A shivering male model was heard shouting out through a megaphone that the disrespect shown to the models was "proof that something is badly wrong with French society", while artists, students and art teachers sat sketching them in support.
The protest had started after Paris city hall, which runs an array of life-drawing classes, banned the tradition of the "cornet", which is a piece of art paper rolled into a cone and passed round for tips as a model gets dressed after class.
The models, who have to survive on a minimum wage with no fixed contracts, holiday pay, security cover or job security, said the tips allowed them to survive.
In France life modelling is widely seen as a serious career choice, and the models wanted to quash the misconception that it was merely something students and retired people did for pocket money.
"This is a craft that should be respected, not just anyone can take their clothes off and hold a pose," the Guardian quoted Deborah, 28, one of the strike organisers, who has worked as a full-time life model for four years, as saying.
"It is artistic and physically demanding work," she stated.
Leela, 33, a singing teacher and part-time model, said the "cornet" was crucial to supplement her pay of 10 euros an hour.
"Everyone puts in one or two euros, which can add up to 20 euros to 30 euros. The next day I can go to the market and fill my fridge," she added.
Christophe Girard, Paris city hall's culture supremo, who also moonlighted as a life model in his student days, tried to calm the row, urging the ministry of culture to review life models' status.
"Regarding tips, we can't let people collect money that's not taxed while working in a state building," Girard said.
"But I think this was a lovely protest in the French, gaulois spirit of resistance - taking your clothes off outside 10 days before Christmas shows real conviction.
"Life modelling is an activity that is fragile and possibly under threat and I don't want to see it disappear," he added. (ANI)