Ashley Graham has revealed that she was sexually abused at the age of 10 years old in her upcoming memoir, ‘A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like’.
The 29-year-old, reported by People, talks about how an 18-year-old family friend made her touch his private parts while drying off in the laundry room after swimming in the pool.
The body-positive model also wrote about how her father was verbally abusive growing up and told her to lose weight in response to when Ford Models said she should “tighten up”. Inevitably events and criticisms from those around Ashley lead her on a path of body hate and drug and alcohol abuse.
Whether it’s sexual, or emotional abuse, Ashley Graham is not the first model to talk about negative experiences at the start of their careers.
Kate Moss in an interview with Vanity Fair a few years ago said that she had to seek medical help for anxiety two years after her famous 1990 topless photograph, which launched her career. “I see a 16-year-old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird. But they were like: If you don’t do it, then we’re not going to book you again. So I’d lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it. I never felt very comfortable about it.”
Only recently it was revealed that models were mistreated and left traumatised at a casting call for Balenciaga at this Paris Fashion Week. Directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes, who were later fired, left 150 models waiting for hours in a cramped stairwell while they went for lunch.
There isn’t much protection for models against abuse in any form but not longer after news in the US broke about fashion designer Anand Jon pleading guilty to raping aspiring models as young as 14 years old in 2008 and more than a dozen models came forward to accuse photographer Terry Richardson of inappropriate sexual behaviour and assault in 2012. The Model Alliance formed by Sara Ziff aims to give models a voice on issues in the industry like exploitation and abuse.
With more models like Ashley Graham and Kate Moss sharing their experiences of abuse and exploitation, there will be more action taken to challenge abuse from the start.