The #MeToo movement isn't going away anytime soon, whether we want it or not. The time is right for women and men to come out with their experiences of sexual abuse and misconduct in arts and business, following the examples of high-profile celebrities. One such celebrity, Ashley Graham, an American model who has been a dedicated advocate for self-confidence and body acceptance, has been courageous and spoken out about her #MeToo experience at the beginning of her modeling career.
At only 17 years of age, while Graham was working for a large campaign, she was allegedly “lured into a hallway by a photography assistant who subsequently pushed her into a closet where he exposed himself to her.” Graham kept this harrowing experience to herself for years, fearing for rejection in the industry and the inability to book any modeling jobs thereafter.
The importance of #MeToo is prevalent, as Graham explains that if the assault had occurred today “she would have spoken out about the assault, and while there's no way to know what would have happened, she would have done something.”
Baby steps are being made in cleansing the industry from inside and out, such as when leading fashion magazines chose to disassociate themselves from Terry Richardson, there still is a long way to go in creating a safe work environment in the entertainment industry. The abuse and misconduct isn't only aimed at models or actors, but also at photographers, too.
The biggest issue is that freelance photographers do not have a HR department to turn to, and neither do freelance models, event planners, nor others who work in the industry and are self-employed. Paying bills often comes before your own safety when you do not have a guaranteed wage at the end of the month, and as such many of these experiences can become buried.
However, there is strength in unity and as such there is no doubt that we will continue to see the #MeToo movement spread across different industries, and hopefully bring voice and closure to those who have been too frightened to tell their stories.
Lead image by Mihai Surdu via Unsplash.