Amid Harvey Weinstein scandal, fashion models share sex abuse stories on Instagram with activist Cameron Russell
US model Russell, who has worked for the likes of Chanel and Victoria’s Secret, says this is ‘the beginning of a power shift’ and calls on the industry to stop working with ‘predators’
In the wake of revelations about disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, American model Cameron Russell took to Instagram to share her followers’ experiences of sexual abuse in the fashion industry, posting dozens of anonymous stories over a number of days.
Russell, 30, invited people to anonymously share their stories with her on Thursday, which she then reposted to her almost 90,000 followers over the following days using the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse.
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“Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behaviour is,” wrote the model and activist, who has modelled for the likes of Chanel and Victoria’s Secret.
Meet Cameron Russell. Shes in the model industry and just recently spoke out about sexual abuse towards models. She is currently letting women tell their story by having them direct message her and she posts it on her account. Check out her instagram @cameronrussell to see more! #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse #stopsexualviolence
A post shared by Spread The Word (@stopsexualabusetoday) on Oct 14, 2017 at 3:02pm PDT
“Nothing in these stories should be a revelation for those working in our industry. Instead it was the beginning of a power shift. We are speaking to each other, we are speaking up, we are speaking to lawyers, and we are speaking to well-resourced reporters,” she added, calling upon magazines and agencies to take action and stop working with “predators”.
The anonymous accounts ranged from recent experiences to some dating back to up to 20 years.
They mostly involved photographers or stylists who sexually abused or attempted to abuse models – primarily women, sometimes minors, and occasionally men too. In many of the stories, victims remembered being reassured that this kind of behaviour was normal in the industry.
One of the posts Russell’s initiative drew:
I’m so inspired by the openness and empowerment stirring on @cameronrussell. As a female in business, I struggle with this indecision on almost a weekly basis: to speak or not to speak. When there is a comment about our looks or sexuality, when there is a quick brush of a hand on our waist/thigh/breast/anywhere, when there is an outright demand for us to do something we don’t want to do - it almost always feels like we don’t have a good option. It almost always feels like we have to choose between standing up for respect or an important gig/career/success. My sister wrote an amazing article on medium last week and she asked: Is the real reason men get away with treating us as inferior because our own inner voice believes it? If we’re going to make any of this better, we need to start speaking out. We need to stand up together so that none of us feel alone. We need to rise up in unison and declare that our worth has nothing to do with our femininity or attractiveness. Let’s be fearless together. We owe it to our mothers, daughters and friends. Above all, we owe it to our selves. ️ @waddy722 (one of the most respectful human I know) #sexualassault #womensrights #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse
A post shared by janna ☻ (@jannathebanana) on Oct 16, 2017 at 7:40am PDT
In one message posted Monday, a contributor revealed that reading the stories made her “recall some experiences that I had long forgotten about because I thought they were normal. Unfortunately every single person in this industry has been personally assaulted or has seen it happen.”
Sharing the stories was “only the first step in a long process to make sexual harassment, assault and violence unacceptable,” Russell wrote on Instagram, adding she hoped an “experienced investigative team can support the work of holding the fashion industry accountable”.
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Russell, who is signed to celebrated agency Elite, made a name for herself in 2012 with a TED talk during which she advised young girls not to pursue an “unsustainable” career in fashion.
She warned that the job deprives models of “any creative control”, adding that her success was only due to winning the “genetic lottery”.