The #MeToo movement has sparked a national dialogue about sexual assault and harassment, allowing women to speak out against abuse in the workplace. In a society where women often get reprimanded for speaking out against sexual harassment and violence, the movement has given survivors a platform to tell their stories and demand real change. Now, model Kate Upton is the newest voice to join into the #MeToo movement — and her post is harrowing. In a tweet, Upton alleges Guess co-founder, Paul Marciano, has "sexually and emotionally" harassed women.
Update: On Feb. 20, Marciano stepped down from his role at Guess until the company fully investigates the sexual harassment accusation. Marciano has called Upton's allegations "preposterous."
Upton first voiced her story on Twitter on Jan. 31, writing a short statement that directly referenced Marciano.
"It's disappointing that such an iconic women's brand @GUESS is still empowering Paul Marciano as their creative director #metoo," Upton wrote on Twitter.
She then took to Instagram to elaborate further, posting an image of her tweet and writing in her caption, "He shouldn’t be allowed to use his power in the industry to sexually and emotionally harass women #metoo."
Upton was once the face of Guess and starred in the brand's campaigns in 2010 and 2011. At the time, she was 17 and 18 years old. In her posts, Upton did not make any specific allegations against Marciano, but suggested she was harassed by him through the use of the #MeToo hashtag.
Marciano told TMZ that he had never touched Upton, and has never been alone with her. TMZ says Marciano suggested Upton could have "bad blood" with the brand, after he alleges the company cut ties with her after she acted unprofessionally.
"If she has a claim, there's one place to tell the truth and that’s in court or to the police," he told the outlet.
Bustle has reached out to Guess for comment on the allegations.
Sexual abuse is especially rampant in the modeling industry, an industry where predominantly young, teenage girls enter work relationships with influential, powerful men who could break or make their careers. These power imbalances have lead to founded cases of abuse and harassment, where photographers engage in predatory behavior, like asking teenage models to take off their clothes when a shoot doesn't call for it, engage in non-consensual sexual touching like in alleged cases with Terry Richardson, and asking for sexual favors in return for not blacklisting them.
Models have been calling out this behavior for decades, but up until now, the allegations were seemingly brushed away by agencies and fashion insiders. The reasoning that often followed was that models appeared nude in photographs all the time, and they appeared in "suggestive" and sexual poses just as frequently. If the photographer touched them, he was just doing his job and it was misconstrued.
But not long after news over Weinstein's allegations broke, model Cameron Russell began posting anonymous stories from fellow models of their experiences on her Instagram account, with the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. All the experiences outline clear moments of abuse in their work environments.
In regards to Upton's tweet and allegations, the responses are varied. Some have responded that she should be thankful Marciano launched her career, regardless of the abuse she might have suffered.
But most of the responses were supportive and showed solidarity. One model chimed in, alleging that she had experienced harassment herself while working with the brand.
Others have alleged that this was a known fact for decades now.
Others thanked her for her courage in speaking out regardless of the backlash she will now face.
Many said that voices like Upton's are needed to end the cycle of abuse in Hollywood.
Some called her an inspiration to the industry for her bravery in speaking out against her alleged abuser
Though Upton did not elaborate on the specifics behind her personal story, it's clear her words are shining a light on problems in the fashion industry — and calling us all to take action.