After the explosive exposés accusing Harvey Weinstein of decades of sexual harassment, there has been a surge of industry figures speaking out against the movie mogul (58 and counting), while others have shared their experience of being sexually assaulted by other men in the business (including Reese Witherspoon). Now, supermodel legend Christy Turlington Burns is saying this type of behavior is just as prevalent within the modeling community.
In a new interview with WWD, the supermodel and founder of Every Mother Counts, says that the same type of harassment is widely known and often ignored in the modeling world. “I have been thinking about this a lot since the news came out, and I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry,” the model said. “The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experienced at some point in our careers.”
Burns says she was fortunate that she didn’t experience anything traumatic during her tenure, but acknowledged her luck: “That is not the norm.” Looking back she says she can’t believe the type of people she was left in the care of during her modeling trips.
“I would get off of a flight and find some creepy playboy type there to meet me,” she said. “In hindsight, I fear I may have played the ‘honeypot’ that has been described in the stories about these predators who make other women feel protected. Unknowingly, but still an accomplice of sorts. I might have been the assurance that made other young women feel safer. If I’d known how these men thought and behaved, I might have done more to stay clear of them”
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She says the best way to protect models today is to get into the business as an adult and to be aware that sexual harassment can happen anywhere. “The best way to protect young models is to keep them in school and off sets until they are adults. But that’s only part of the problem,” she explained. “We need to teach our girls, and young boys, how to protect themselves and defend themselves against predators in every area of their lives. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere and at any time. In the playground, in school, on the bus, in crowded public spaces. Accepting this and preparing for it will help more of us know how to handle it when it does happen.”