Model Cameron Russell Is Sharing Anonymous Stories of Sexual Harassment in Fashion Industry
Russell has shared more than 45 accounts from fellow models on her social media feeds.
Model and activist Cameron Russell is sharing anonymous stories of sexual harassment and assault from her peers in the fashion industry on social media to shine a light on the abuse that takes place between models and creatives.
"Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is," wrote Russell on Instagram on Thursday evening. "We talked about how hard it is to share stories of assault. When they are the norm, calling them out can feel disruptive and unprofessional."
The idea to repost stories began yesterday after Russell, 30, published a quote from Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex, regarding rape culture on college campuses. The quote reads, "The members ... were primarily white and affluent; somehow they believed that racism and misogyny marked them as rebels rather than merely recruits to an entrenched old guard."
In the accompanying caption, Russell wrote, "I always thought it was an apt description of many powerful men in creative industries too. How often have you heard 'this is art' or 'this is a creative field' as an excuse to glorify oppressive and even violent behavior? On this #dayofthegirl I'm proud of women who are breaking their silence, and hoping all the men who aren't being called out are listening and waking up."
Orenstein wrote this about college fraternity culture but I always thought it was an apt description of many powerful men in creative industries too. How often have you heard "this is art" or "this is a creative field" as an excuse to glorify oppressive and even violent behavior? On this #dayofthegirl I'm proud of women who are breaking their silence, and hoping all the men who aren't being called out are listening and waking up. #RapeCulture #UntilTheViolenceStops
Inspired by her post, a fellow anonymous model (and friend of Russell's) reached out to detail her own experience working with a photographer who assaulted her when she was 15 years old for the sake of "making the pic look more sensual." The photographer was not named in the post.
"We need a way to begin breaking the silence while remaining protected," wrote Russell after sharing a screenshot of the model's story. "We are not talking about one, five, or even twenty men. We are talking about a culture of exploitation and it must stop."
She encouraged models who wished to share their stories anonymously to send their words to her, and began reposting the accounts Thursday evening. "If you would like to share publicly use the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse so the industry can see the size and scope of this problem."
On her own experience, Russell wrote, "On many occasions I've been called a feminist for reporting unwanted groping, spanking, pinching, pressure for dates, phone calls and texts of a sexual nature, lack of appropriate changing areas, etc. And because the response has always been 'are you surprised?' or 'that's part of the job' I tolerated them. When the offenses were bigger, calling them out is terrifying, and demands a level of exposure and backlash to what is already painful and sometimes shameful."
Russell has since posted more than 45 anonymous stories of sexual harassment or assault in the industry.