Christy Turlington Burns Speaks Out on Sexual Harassment in the Fashion Industry

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"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."

As the onslaught of allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein have highlighted deeper problems within the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, too, is taking an inward look at the abuses of power and exploitation of young women.

Model Cameron Russell used her Instagram account as a platform to share the anonymous stories of her peers who called out systemic abuse, and Model Alliance has reaffirmed its position as a resource for models who face harassment. Now, Christy Turlington Burns is offering her advice on how the industry can do better.

In an interview with WWD, the model — a veteran of the industry with almost 30 years of experience — shared that it's always been widely known that "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." 

"I feel fortunate that I did not personally experience anything traumatic," she said, "but also know that is not the norm." Burns, whose Every Mother Counts nonprofit has long acted as a champion for women, went on to describe how she was sometimes unwittingly used as a "honeypot" or "the assurance that made other young women feel safer" when in the company of dangerous men. "If I’d known how these men thought and behaved, I might have done more to stay clear of them."

As for what young models can do to protect themselves against predators, Burns said, "the best way to protect young models is to keep them in school and off sets until they are adults." 

She continued, "We need to teach our girls, and young boys, how to protect themselves and defend themselves against predators in every area of their lives. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere and at any time. In the playground, in school, on the bus, in crowded public spaces. Accepting this and preparing for it will help more of us know how to handle it when it does happen."

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