In the wake of sexual-assault allegations in Hollywood, supermodel Christy Turlington is now speaking out about the harassment and misconduct that she says has long been tolerated in the fashion industry.
In an email exchange with WWD, Turlington expressed her concern for young men and women in the modeling industry. She wrote that she was “fortunate” to not personally experience anything traumatic, but that harassment has always been widely known and tolerated by fashion insiders. “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,” she wrote.
Turlington went on to say that she was protected early in her career, because her mother traveled with her often and her family trusted those who were supposed to keep an eye out for her when she was young. Yet, the supermodel added, “there were many times I could not believe who I was left under the care of on early trips to Milan, Paris or London. I would get off of a flight and find some creepy playboy type there to meet me.”
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.
Turlington, who works closely with her nonprofit Every Mother Counts, noted that she doesn’t know if “those old guys” are still around the fashion industry today. But she believes there needs to be more protections for young women and men in fashion, as there aren’t any strong unions, models work long hours, and there aren’t always chaperones on sets.
“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. We need to teach our girls, and young boys, how to protect themselves and defend themselves against predators in every area of their lives,” she wrote.