A model is sharing a series of damning sexual harassment stories sent to her by some of her colleagues, accusing industry professionals of assaulting them, touching their private parts without consent, or demanding oral sex in a professional context.
Cameron Russell, 30, received the testimonies from several of her fellow models, as well as assistants, and started sharing them on her Instagram account yesterday. Russell, a Boston native and a Columbia graduate, has in the past called out the modeling industry for helping beautiful people who have won the genetic lottery unfair privileges.
Now, she is helping her colleagues speak out anonymously against their harassers, by relaying their messages to her 77,200 Instagram followers.
Speaking out: Model Cameron Russell (pictured), 30, is sharing a series of sexual harassment stories sent to her by some of her colleagues on her Instagram account
Shocking: Several models reported photographers touching them without their consent, such as this person who said one of them touched her buttock and told her how 'sexy' it felt
Damning: Among the stories shared by Russell, is this email sent about a man whose 'flirty and aggressive' conduct is presented as normal because he's a 'dirty Frenchman'
Russell has concealed the identity of all the people, both male and female, who have shared their narratives with her.
Several of them recounted having their genitals or breasts touched without consent during a photo shoot, and being told that rebuffing advances would harm their careers.
Others said photographers pleasured themselves in front of them, or asked for oral sex.
In several cases, the models being harassed were in their teens, and one of them even revealed a photographer insisted on taking photos of them naked even though they knew the model was underage.
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'It's art': One woman said a photographer whom she assisted once asked her to come in the bathroom to take photos of whole he pleasured himself
Demands: A model recounted being asked by a photographer to 'suck his d***' during an 'audition test shoot', and getting told it was a 'vital' part of the process
Private: One photo assistant said someone once asked her detailed questions about her private parts, and when she felt embarrassed, everyone else acted as if it was normal
Context: Russell explained the 34 women who have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and rape against Harvey Weinstein played a part in her wanting to share the stories
'A brave model (and friend) reached out to me with her story today,' Russell wrote as she shared the first message. 'She has asked to remain anonymous but asked that I share her words here because the photographer still works in the industry. She wants to encourage other women to speak up.'
Russell explained that the 34 women who have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and rape against Harvey Weinstein played a part in her wanting to publicize her colleague's stories.
'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,' she added.
'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.'
Among the testimonies published by Russell is that of a model who recounted how a photographer told her when she was just 19 years old and sent to New York City by her agency that he 'always' had sex with the models he photographed.
Damning: A model said a photographer insisted to take naked pictures of her even though she was underage, and described how she was afraid her career would suffer when she refused
Opening up: One of the models recounted being 15 years old when a photographer touched her inappropriately during a session
Threats: A model said that a photographer claimed he always slept with the models he worked with, and started demeaning her when she appeared disgusted
Advocate: '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,' Russell wrote
'When he caught on to my disgust he began to tell me how I was delusional in coming to New York because I was fat and that no agency would never want to sign me,' the model wrote, adding that when she began tearing up, the man cruelly told her: 'Welcome to the industry.'
Another model revealed that when she was underage, a photographer insisted to take naked photos of her, even though she took it upon herself to remind the man that he would get in trouble due to her young age.
She felt the need to tell him so 'in a nice way', because she was 'a new girl' in the industry whereas he was 'a very well-known photographer with a lot of contacts', which made her feel 'insecure' and like her career could 'end in minutes' if the man turned against her.
A male model also spoke out anonymously, revealing that a photographer once touched his genitals during a shoot and demanding the model pose for 'sexier' pictures in exchange for 'free photos'.
'People think because you're a guy you can control this stuff,' the model wrote. 'It was one of the lowest I've ever felt. And this was just one but not the only time.'
MODEL SHARES HER SEXUAL ASSAULT STORY