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Model shares anonymous stories of industry predators

In an eye-opening series of Instagram posts, Cameron Russell is revealing shocking stories of harassment

You might know model Cameron Russell as a face of Prada, or a Victoria’s Secret Angel – or, alternatively, for her insightful 2013 Ted talk, in which she dishes some home truths on the reality of her occupation. A quick glimpse at her Instagram shows she’s also a vocal advocate, campaigning for causes like climate change and female empowerment around the world.

She’s previously declared herself part of a Model Mafia, and since yesterday, Russell has been using her account to share powerful stories she has been sent about the harassment that’s rife in the industry. Of the experiences posted so far, many include underage models in situations with predatory (but apparently well-known and respected) male photographers, as well as female photographic assistants. The stories are shocking and include everything from inappropriate comments and unwanted dick pics to assault and rape. 

A common thread – and one which underscores the unequal power dynamic at play in these encounters – is that the victims often feel as if they have encouraged these unwanted advances, and have been too fearful to speak out for risk of getting a “reputation” or being seen as difficult to work with, especially early on in their careers. An important point here, and something we touched on with this anonymous model op-ed, is that women are not the only ones at risk of sexual harassment and abuse – one man has also shared his story with Russell.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has encouraged many to examine their industries. Model mistreatment has been on fashion’s agenda for some time – after casting director James Scully kicked off the conversation earlier this year, Kering and LVMH have worked together on a charter which will hold brands accountable for treating models poorly. There is also a hotline where those affected can report abuse. Still, sexual assault had not really been part of the discussion.

Still, this is a systemic issue – as one model says, “every model I knew had similar stories.” “We are not talking about one, five, or even twenty men,” wrote Russell. “We are talking about a culture of exploitation and it must stop.”

Click through some of the stories below, but be warned that these accounts include sexual assault. If you have been affected by these issues, 24/7 support is available from RAINN.