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The Model Alliance made a big statement to Victoria’s Secret today, publishing an open letter imploring the company to take an active stand in protecting models from exploitation and abuse.
In a letter addressed to the company’s CEO John Mehas and co-signed by Time’s Up and dozens of models, the organization wrote:
We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret. In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria’s Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation. From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls.
These stories are gut-wrenching and hit close to home for many of us who have encountered these kinds of abuses that are too often tolerated in our industry. We stand with the courageous women who have come forward and shared their stories, despite fears of retaliation or harm to their careers. It breaks our hearts to keep hearing these stories. We can and must do better. It is time for RESPECT.
RESPECT is the Model Alliance’s anti-sexual harassment program created for model, by models. “Signatory companies make a binding commitment to require their employees, agents, vendors, photographers and other contractors to follow a code of conduct that protects everyone’s safety on the job, and reduces models’ vulnerability to mistreatment,” the Model Alliance wrote in its letter.
“Models have access to an independent, confidential complaint mechanism, with swift and fair resolution of complaints and appropriate consequences for abusers,” it continued. “Further, RESPECT includes a robust training program aimed toward prevention, to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities. We are calling on Victoria’s Secret to take meaningful action to protect its talent and those who aspire to work with the company. Victoria’s Secret has the opportunity to be a leader, to use its power and influence to bring about the changes that are urgently needed in our industry.”
Victoria’s Secret has not commented on the letter yet. You can read the full open letter here.