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 Thursday night, which she then reposted to her 90,000 followers over the following days using the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse.
“Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is,” the model and activist, who has modelled for the likes of Chanel and Victoria’s Secret, wrote.
“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 behavior was normal in the industry.
In one message posted Monday, a contributor revealed 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.”
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 the job deprives models of “any creative control,” adding that her success was only due to winning the “genetic lottery.”