As shock waves from the #MeToo movement continue to reverberate throughout a wide range of industries, it's becoming clear that fashion still has a long way to go when it comes to creating a safe working environment — one that's free from sexual assault and harassment. Models are especially vulnerable to this type of mistreatment, and big names like Kate Upton and Ashley Graham have recently come forward to speak publicly about their own experiences. Major industry players, including Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, Karl Templer and Patrick Demarchelier, have been among those accused of misconduct, and the CFDA went so far as to pen a letter clearly defining sexual harassment before Fashion Week in February. It's certainly a top-of-mind issue on an industry-wide scale.
On Monday, in a thoughtful post on Instagram, model Teddy Quinlivan added her voice to the conversation, writing about her own past experiences with sexual assault and harassment while working in fashion.
"When I became a model I knew I would be working long hours and there would be times when people would be mean or critical towards me," wrote Quinlivan. "What I didn't expect was for a casting director my first season to force himself on me and offer to put me on the cover of magazines in exchange for sex, or the time a stylist stuck his fingers inside my underwear on a closed set and attempted to pull off my underwear without warning, or the time a photographer groped me and pinched my nipple. These were events I couldn't have been prepared for, because I didn't think it could or would ever happen to me... But it did."
According to Quinlivan, who was discovered by Louis Vuitton's Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière in 2015 and came out as transgender in September of 2017, the industry's response to sexual harassment and assault has been sorely lacking. "When I see accused perpetrators of assault get a pass because their friends and colleagues don't believe or care for the victims who've come forward it makes me sick," she wrote.
Beyond simply describing her own past assaults, Quinlivan also sent a powerful message to the fashion industry as a whole, urging brands and publications to become more vigilant about who choose (and choose not) to work with: "If making the fashion industry safe for everyone isn't a priority of yours then I don't feel comfortable participating in your future projects." The model herself is taking a stand, publicly announcing that she "refuse[s] to work with brands and publications who continue to collaborate with accused offenders of assault."
Quinlivan, who has established herself as an editorial and runway staple over the course of the past several seasons, is calling on brands, publications and fashion professionals to do better, and she seeks to lead by example. Her Instagram statement culminated in one simple, straightforward message: "There is no fashion show, editorial, campaign, or event that is more important than the safety and well being of both myself and remarkable men and women I work with."