Most people are unaware that Donald Trump has his own modeling agency. Trump Models, based in New York City, is home to many of fashion’s top faces, and even manages Olivia Culpo, the 2012 Miss USA and Miss Universe. However, the agency’s policy of recruiting models as young as 14 is raising eyebrows among those who feel that particular age is too young for the hyper-sexualized modeling culture.
Trump himself founded the agency in 1999, and is still involved in its operation. Its founding seemed to fit Trump’s taste for models at the time; Trump met his future wife, model Melania Knauss, at a New York society party in 1998. The two quickly started dating, even though he would not divorce his current wife, Marla Maples, until 1999.
The Washington Free Beacon gushed about Trump Models, calling his agency “a world-class accomplishment of his that will be celebrated here throughout his campaign.” Seriously. They actually said that.
However, his agency does not operate without controversy, as they recruit models as young as 14 years of age. On the Trump Model website, they require that models who submit portfolios for review be a minimum age of 14 years, with a height between 5′ 8″ and 6′.
Concerns over the exploitation and sexualization of young models has led to Europe banning runway models under 16. Supermodel Janice Dickinson has been a vocal opponent of young models, and recently spoke out against 13-year-old model Maddison Gabriel being the new “darling” of the fashion world. “There’s lots of drugs, there’s lots of alcohol, there’s lots of photographers preying on these girls. Thirteen is way too young,” she said. Dickinson’s modeling agency does not accept girls younger than 18.
Still, U.S. modeling agencies like Trump’s continue to recruit young girls, but Trump’s recent comments about women casts a darker shadow on his agency. Trump himself still seems overly obsessed with models and age. He recently said in an interview that Heidi Klum, now 42, is no longer a “10,” which did not sit well with many after his Megyn Kelly comments.