Model Alliance Calls on Fashion Industry to Have Zero Tolerance for Harassment

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The labor advocacy organization issued a statement Tuesday.

As more women come forward about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and assault, individuals from other work spheres, including the fashion world, have begun to share their own horrifying experiences. Model Cameron Russell was among those to highlight the sexual abuse that models experience in the creative workplace, sharing at least 45 anonymous stories of exploitation in the industry on her Instagram.

Following the stories that Russell shared, not-for-profit labor organization Model Alliance issued a statement Tuesday. 

"The Model Alliance stands with the brave individuals who have come forward to share their stories and with all survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault have no place in the creative process, and should not be excused this way. No person should tolerate any sort of unwanted or inappropriate conduct, nor should our industry," reads the statement from model and activist Sara Ziff, who founded the labor advocacy group in 2012.

The organization condemns Weinstein's alleged acts as "horrific and unacceptable," adding that "this exploitative, bullying behavior is more prevalent in the fashion industry than many people would like to acknowledge."

"Numerous models have accused power-brokers in the fashion industry of sexual abuse. In many cases, the allegations go beyond harassment," the statement continues to read. "With the majority of fashion models beginning their careers between the ages of 13 and 16, children who model are particularly vulnerable to such abuse. And yet, it wasn't until November 2013, through the Model Alliance's efforts, that underage models in New York State gained protections under the Department of Labor."

In conclusion, the Model Alliance states that its goal is to "ensure a safe working environment through educational workshops, research studies, legislative advocacy, and our confidential grievance reporting service, Model Alliance Support."

At the Elle Women in Hollywood event Monday night, Kristen Stewart highlighted the fact that sexual abuse is experienced at every level in the creative industry, and noted the importance of being aware and supporting each other.

The Model Alliance's statement can be read in full below:

The Model Alliance stands with the brave individuals who have come forward to share their stories and with all survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault have no place the creative process, and should not be excused this way. No person should tolerate any sort of unwanted or inappropriate conduct, nor should our industry.

The alleged acts by Harvey Weinstein are horrific and unacceptable. Unfortunately, this exploitative, bullying behavior is more prevalent in the fashion industry than many people would like to acknowledge. And despite the significant control that modeling agencies and clients exert over models’ working lives, they generally insist that models are independent contractors, not employees. As contractors, models do not benefit from the laws intended to curb sexual harassment on the job and protect models.

Numerous models have accused power-brokers in the fashion industry of sexual abuse. In many cases, the allegations go beyond harassment. With the majority of fashion models beginning their careers between the ages of 13 and 16, children who model are particularly vulnerable to such abuse. And yet, it wasn’t until November 2013, through the Model Alliance's efforts, that underage models in New York State gained protections under the Department of Labor.

At the Model Alliance, we strive to ensure a safe working environment through educational workshops, research studies, legislative advocacy, and our confidential grievance reporting service, Model Alliance Support. We advise models who come to us with work-related questions and complaints, and we refer them to attorneys when necessary. We collaborate with the Mayor’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards, a dedicated resource for workers in NYC. The Model Alliance has provided guidance and support to hundreds of models.

If you are being coerced or threatened, or you simply feel that a situation is not right — you can email support@modelalliance.org and a dedicated Model Alliance representative will help address your concerns.

This is an issue that the Model Alliance is working closely to address and to which we are fully committed.

Sincerely,

Sara Ziff

Founding Director

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