Anne walked out of the agency told once more her YSL option had been dropped.
She hailed a yellow cab from the busy road, got in, slammed the door shut & tossed her YSL bag in the back seat. She sobbed uncontrollably. She was exhausted & hungry, wondering how she ended up miserable, homeless & broke.
It had been 5 years. She remembered when she first started. Fresh and new, every photographer wanted to do nudes with her. Aged 17, unaware of the grey area she was encountering. Encouraged against her better judgment by predatory photographer comments like ‘it will be good for your career’, ‘all the great models do it’, ‘ it’s easy’ – she goes nude. Towing the line between sexual assault, coercion and career development, she sleeps with him and his assistant.
Returning to the model apartment, Anne turned on the shower. The hot water didn’t make her feel clean, quite the contrary, as the water ran down her body it felt as though his repulsive hands were still touching her. Did she enjoy it? Not one bit, but she was told by her agents that this is modelling and this is what you have to do to make it.
As she got out of the shower her phone pinged, the repulsive photographer asked her to “meet me tonight so I can give you the photos”. She asked if he could “email them instead”, he said, “I can only give them in person, meet me at Bar NY1 at 9 pm, I will introduce you to some big industry friends”.
Once again he had hooked her with the promise of meeting the right people. Anne wanted to impress the “industry friends”, so she wore a short black cocktail dress and was armed with a fake ID to get into the club. When she arrived, the photographers assistant ushered her over. Looked her up and down, gave her a drink and whispered in her ear ‘look confident you want to make an impression’. She took a few sips and walked over to the photographer. The photographer kissed her on both cheeks and told her his industry friends will be here in an hour. 2 hours & 5 drinks later, no industry friends show up, Anne is tipsy. The photographer mentions to Anne his big industry friends are instead going to meet at his apartment, she is welcome to come, plus if she comes he will give her the photos which he left on his PC. She goes with them naively. Hours pass, a few more drinks, still no one arrives.
Anne wakes up the next morning hungover, naked & confused. “What happened?”, “Who are these people?”. Scared & unable to recall what happened, she grabs her things and runs out.
A few weeks later her nude photoshoot is published in Vogue. She gets noticed in the industry, books some big jobs. Then one day arrives at a shoot where she is told to give the photographer a blow job, she refuses. Word spreads in the industry that she is difficult to work with & Anne disappears from the fashion radar once more. Replaced by the new it girl, the girl who was willing to do what Anne wasn’t.
Fast forward five years later to today, Anne sobs in the back of a taxi. Self -esteem broken and mind warped. 5 years later Anne wishes she gave that blow job, “maybe I would have been a star if I had just…”
The cycle continues.
This post is dedicated to all the MeToo victims who were exploited through a system designed to exploit an imbalance of power. This is also dedicated to those MeToo victims that were punished, ostracised and labelled ‘difficult’ for taking a stand against coercion.