Edie Campbell's Comments On Sexual Assault In The Fashion Industry Sheds Light On An Important Issue
After multiple allegations of assault against powerful celebrity men, reports of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace are coming out almost every day as women in Hollywood bravely speak up against their accused abusers. Many models have spoken up to talk about the power struggle in the fashion industry, and how to stop seemingly rampant harassment. Joining the fight for fairness, model Edie Campbell wrote an open letter to the fashion industry on the WWD website. It breaks down what the model calls "complex issues" that seem to serve as the backbone for sexual assault.
In the letter, Campbell breaks down why she believes misuses of power happen in the modeling industry and how people can stop it from happening.
"When models go on set, we enter into an unspoken contract. For that day, we surrender our bodies and our faces to the photographer, stylist, hairdresser and makeup artist. We relinquish ownership of ourselves," Campbell writes in the open letter. "To state the obvious: We sell our desirability. That is the job description — be as desirable as possible. This doesn’t mean that, 'we’re asking for it.'
"Our success and our financial security are dependent on those more powerful than us. The power imbalance is huge, and the duty of care to that model is even greater as a result."
The Harvey Weinstein accusations opened the door for people to speak out about sexual assault and injustices on a personal and professional level. The hashtag #MeToo brought to light the overwhelming amount of sexual abuse survivors in Hollywood and beyond with just two words. Model Cameron Russell used her social media platform of over 100,000 to share women's stories of abuse in the modeling industry. Now, Campbell is diving into the deeper issue of why this is happening and how the industry can stop it.
Campbell writes that there are four main reasons she sees for why power imbalances are so prevalent in the industry. According to the letter, "there is no line between the personal and the professional" in modeling, the way "fashion applauds diva behavior," the notion that "fashion hates boring or uncool people," and "that the fashion industry revolves around the artist-genius."
Campbell is sure to note that she sees none of these reasons as excuses for the behavior. Instead, the model writes that the modeling industry must enter "a period of introspection and self-examination" to restructure how business is being conducted in order to protect models.
"There need to be boundaries," she writes. "There must be limits to the creative process, given the potential human cost. Fashion is great when it celebrates the people involved in the creative process, not when it destroys them. The work should not become more important than the people who are involved in it."
Although Campbell writes that she has no first-hand experience of sexual abuse within fashion, she does an incredible job of breaking down how the assault makes its way into the industry and how people can protect themselves and their clients.
"It comes down to responsibility, and this falls to agents to do their job. Some of them are, but many aren’t. They are responsible for the physical and mental wellbeing of the models they represent," Campbell writes. "Don’t sell your model out to protect your relationship with a photographer or stylist. When a model comes to you, listen. Lastly, there should be no tolerance of abuse."
Campbell's open letter also shows that just because you haven't directly experienced the injustices of a certain industry, it doesn't mean that you can't speak out. Because in times like these, the silence is a part of the problem.