When Fox took a break to go to the toilet, she was shocked to look up and see the photographer. He refused, she claims. Get some good shots. Fox, now a Toronto-based makeup artist, saw further objectionable behaviour in her nine-year modeling career—underage girls sleeping with something men, big breaks dangled in return for sex. She learned to pick her battles: By the end of the film, Ziff forms the Model Alliance, a New York City—based not-for-profit advocacy group dedicated to ensuring safe, fair and healthy working conditions for girls and they often are girls.
British models established a similar initiative in under Equity, the U. The Canadian industry is protective of its models, she says: Her first exposure to harassment was shortly after she was scouted in Vancouver at age Working in Taipei, she was forced to change in front of an audience, common in modelling. In August, London-based photographer Shaun Colclough, then 40, was sentenced to seven years on two counts of sexually assaulting aspiring models. Anderson, who runs NAM Personal Management, is known for scouting attractive teenagers, mostly male, on the street and in clubs, dangling the promise of celebrity.
His case, which has a publication ban, is ongoing. Listening to Rocha speak on the topic is a wake-up call: Yet little has been written recently about rape in the fashion industry, ground zero for creating idealized imagery surrounding women—and men. That reality is reflected in the results of an anonymous online Model Alliance survey.
Of the 85 models who responded, 24 reported feeling pressured to have sex with someone at work. Twenty-five reported inappropriate touching, while 74 experienced a surprise nude shoot or casting.
Forty-four say they rarely or never have parents or guardians on shoots or castings. Some models even reported that their agents encouraged them to have sex with their harassers to further their careers.
Such stories, sadly, are not new. The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, detailed the indignities young models endured—or felt forced to embrace—to further their careers. Allegations that he has harassed and coerced unwilling models into sexual acts have swirled since ; multiple lawsuits have been filed, though no criminal investigations have been launched. Richardson steadfastly denies all charges. In no other realm do adults routinely work with the underage in situations that are so highly sexualized.
Most female models start before Many drop out of school and live transient lives far from home. Models also do work negotiated on their behalf. This is where a strong agent is vital, says Pearson: He believes sexual harassment is inevitable in an industry based on objectification—and selling sexuality and desirability, in increasingly overt ways. Fox recalls one shoot in Toronto when she was 21, working with another model, who was After looking at the shot, he told them they looked uncomfortable.
The fact that models often live with the agent who discovered them can also enable abuse, as Otis wrote in her memoir.
Lawsuits alleging sexual harassment or assault are difficult to pursue in general, Scafidi says. Fashion is extremely sensitive to anyone rocking the boat, says Rocha: A protective cone of silence prevails.
The Grit Behind the Glamour, a book about the modelling industry, recalls shooting a profile of a model for FT. The crew waited for hours while the model shot privately with a well-known photographer; finally she emerged and told them to go on, that she and the photographer were going out for dinner.
She sees sexual harassment in modelling as part of a broader continuum in which rich, powerful men take advantage of beautiful, ambitious young women.
But the lines of more explicitly sexual imagery are blurred. Dov Charney, the founder and former CEO of American Apparel, who was known for advertising campaigns inspired by child porn, was appointed CEO after masturbating in front of a female journalist and being named in a parade of sexual harassment lawsuits.
He was finally ousted earlier this year, after new facts emerged about his behaviour. Social media has also been a game changer.
They want to follow in the footsteps of Karlie Kloss; she gets 40, likes from one picture on Instagram. Colclough used an industry website to lure models with the promise of helping to improve their portfolios for free. But the Internet bit him back when model Roswell Ivory, 26, sexually harassed by Colclough, took to her blog to ask if other models had problems with an unnamed East London photographer; around 10 wrote back naming him.
The charges came after he approached young girls on social media, promising to help them become models.
Photographer Terry Richardson, known for his sexually transgressive work, faces allegations of sexual harassemtn, all of which he denies Agent Gerald Marie was caught red-handed offering an underage model money for sex Often left out of the conversation is harassment of male models, who tend to be recruited older and are not as well paid.
Bowers was employed by Hollister owned by Abercrombie when a company casting director referred him to Hilburn. Bowers says that after he complied, Hilburn exposed himself and made inappropriate comments. No one talks about men being harassed, says Pearson: Sadly, the fear of being seen as less masculine keeps them quiet. Last year, New York passed a law giving models under 16 the same protections as other child performers. Rocha is proof models can draw clear lines and thrive.
Abusers are often far subtler and more manipulative. This means that even an experienced model like me might put up with a scenario that makes them uncomfortable, for fear of looking unprofessional. Rocha also wants magazines and brands to consider why they need year-old models to portray fashion sold to grown women in the first place, a question grown women should also ask themselves.