Model Cameron Russell calls out the fashion industry on sexual harassment
Dozens of models are banding together to share anonymous accounts of sexual harassment as the controversy over Harvey Weinstein expands to other industries.
Model and activist Cameron Russell, 30, began sharing stories on her Instagramfeed last week, explaining that she wanted to shine a light on abuse of young, often inexperienced models by seasoned professionals in the business.
“Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is,” Russell wrote on her Instagram feed and has encouraged correspondents contributing their stories to publicly use the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse “so the industry can see the size and scope of this problem”.
Among dozens of entries, many writers have described how, as young women often with little experience, they were left unguarded and vulnerable to predators, many of them photographers, agents, clients and bookers. One described how she was assaulted by an unnamed photographer when she was 15 years old for the sake of “making the pic look more sensual”.
As the feed has gathered stories, it has received hundreds of “likes”, including some from well-known models. But Russell wrote that the Instagram accounts should not be seen as an exposé “because nothing in these stories should be a revelation for those working in our industry”.
Russell’s call for the fashion industry to reform have been joined by supermodel Christy Turlington Burns. She told WWD that she felt fortunate that she had not been abused, but added: “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry.”
Turlington, who is married to the actor and documentary maker Edward Burns, continued: “The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experienced at some point in our careers.”
The model, who now runs a not-for-profit organization that trains midwives in Guatemala, said that there were many times early in her career when she had flown abroad for an assignment to find herself entrusted to the care of “some creepy playboy type”.
“In hindsight, I fear I may have played the ‘honeypot’ that has been described in the stories about these predators who make other women feel protected. Unknowingly, but still an accomplice of sorts.”
The Weinstein scandal is now placing the fashion industry in the crosshairs.
Weinstein is married to a fashion designer, Georgina Chapman, and was frequently seen in the front row at his wife’s catwalk shows with senior industry executives. The couple have now separated, Chapman has announced.