As sexual harassment becomes an increasingly widespread problem in the entertainment industry, more and more celebrities are using their platforms to speak out against an issue that was once overlooked. Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Paulina Porizkova is the most recent to come forward about the matter, acknowledging that during her time as a model sexual harassment wasn’t viewed in the same light as it is today.
“Here is the funny thing about sexual harassment with us as models: It was seen as a compliment,” Porizkova told Page Six.
Porizkova landed the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in both ’84 and ’85 and during that time the supermodel notes that “you almost got offended if you did not get harassed.”
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Porizkova went on to explain her point with an example of how the lack of sexual harassment would affect models. “Like, if this photographer is known for hitting on [models] — or goes for all the brunettes — and you show up at the studio and you are a brunette and he does not hit on you…it is like, ‘What is wrong with me?’,” she said.
The supermodel acknowledged how problematic this approach to sexual harassment really is. “So it is messed up. It makes you think that sexual harassment is what you need,” she said.
This isn’t the first instance that the 52-year-old model has shed light on sexual harassment in the modeling industry. In the 2012 HBO documentary, About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, Porizkova also called attention to the issue with taking sexual harassment as a compliment. “If a 16-year-old is kind of flattered by a man pulling out his penis in front of her, that’s kind of noteworthy,” she explained.
As more and more sexual misconduct claims are made against powerful male figures in the fashion industry, including notable photographers Terry Richardson and Bruce Weber, models and actresses are refusing to stay silent on the matter. Supermodels Cameron Russell, Christy Turlington, and Cara Delevigne have all given their comments on the widespread issue. “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,” Turlington told WWD last week.
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