The Costume Designers Guild, IATSE Local 892, has officially launched its Pay Equity Now campaign. Parity with their male-dominated creative department head counterparts is the mission. The CDG is 87% female, with 20% of members identifying as LGBTQIA. According to Pay Equality Now, they are 45% lower on the IATSE pay scale compared to their male-dominated creative department heads.
Not only that, the scale rate is less than assistant positions in those male-dominated creative positions.
The campaign simply asks for “fair and just compensation for CDG membership.” “Within an industry that prides itself on creativity and inclusivity, this glaring wage gap highlights an urgent need for change, one that the CDG has decided to take action towards,” reads a statement from the Pay Equity Now campaign. “This movement seeks to expand upon the #NakedWithoutUs campaign that the Costume Designers Guild has used for the past several years to bring attention to this inequity.”
The gender pay gap widens every year, while the cost of rent and living continues to increase. On top of that, industry members are still in serious recovery from COVID and the strikes. “Members of the CDG and leaders of our Pay Equity Now movement will not sit idly by as this glaring injustice persists,” Costume Designers Guild president Terry Ann Gordon. “Costume designers, assistant costume designers and costume illustrators have taken it upon themselves to lead this dialogue, putting this strong message in front of the eyes that are most important when it comes to tangible change – and we’ll continue to push this conversation until we see real change.”
Until that necessary change is made, costume designers are the least paid creative department heads in film and TV. “This puts further urgency on addressing pay inequities as the gap hinders each member’s ability to adequately prepare for their financial future when compared to their creative counterparts,” the group stated. “Recognizing the indispensable contribution of the costume designer and their teams to the overall artistic vision and the economic success of a project, it is unconscionable to advocate for anything less than fair and equitable pay for costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators.”
As costume designer Ane Crabtree (The Handmaid’s Tale) once put it, it’s dehumanizing. “Do I want costume design and costume designers to be seen? Hell, yes,” Crabtree said. “Do I want as much recognition as my DP sisters and brothers when we are one-fifth of the frame? Why don’t we have it? We’re not taken seriously. It was considered women’s work. It’s time for us to be taken seriously. I say we’re one-fifth of the frame because it’s the actor in the costume designer’s clothes, filmed by the DP, surrounded by production design, and directed by the director. Why aren’t we at least a part of that one-fifth of the frame? We’re not.”