Cameron Russell

Cameron Russell

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Hollywood is not the only industry where incidents of sexual harassment are recurring events. In light of the onslaught of accounts of sexual assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, the model and activist Cameron Russell is using her Instagram to share anonymous stories from models about their experiences with sexual abuse in the fashion industry.

Thursday night, Cameron Russell posted the words of other models recounting dozens of separate incidents of abuse, encouraging individuals who have experienced sexual assault in the industry to reach out to her via direct message in order for her to post their words anonymously on their behalf. She also requests that models who want to share their stories publicly use the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse so that those both inside and outside of the modeling industry can bear witness to the magnitude of these accounts. In modeling, as in Hollywood and most other industries, there is still the unfortunate phenomenon of the open secret.

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TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️ A brave model (and friend) reached out to me with her story today. 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. We need a way to begin breaking the silence while remaining protected. We are not talking about one, five, or even twenty men. We are talking about a culture of exploitation and it must stop. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STORY ANONYMOUSLY, DIRECT MESSAGE ME and I will post your words. If you would like to share publicly use the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse so the industry can see the size and scope of this problem. Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is. 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. 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. #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse

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In these anonymous posts, Russell has censored the names of both the abusers and the models themselves, and asked the press to respect their privacy in a post on Instagram Stories, stating, "My first priority is to respond to people sharing their stories today. So please excuse my silence. My second priority is to work with a serious investigative team and with the support of model organizers and lawyers take the pain of people who have suffered seriously, and protect them before anything else, while working to ensure this culture of violence is shaken to its core."

Additionally, the statements that Russell has shared on her Instagram are not only coming from women; she has received and posted anonymous statements from male models as well, expressing gratitude towards them for "breaking the silence." The UN advocate and Rainforest Alliance ambassador has a history of using her platform for political activism and community organizing. An outspoken member of the fashion community, Russell gained prominence for her political activism with a widely circulated TED talk in 2012, and just last year she attended the Democratic National Convention to encourage the youth vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.

In the caption on her initial #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse Instagram post, Russell speaks to the difficulties of taking a public stance against abuse in the industry, recounting the times she reported inappropriate behavior towards her as a model, often to dismissive responses that insinuate assault and harassment in the profession are par for the course.

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We have reached out to Russell for a comment and will update if and when we receive a response.

Related: Blake Lively Recounts Her Own Chilling Story of Sexual Harassment

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