Edie Campbell wants to protect models in the fashion industry from sexual abuse.
The 27-year-old British runway star, who’s walked for Dior, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and plenty others, wrote an open letter to the fashion industry for WWD in which she addresses what she calls rampant “abuse” toward working models in the industry.
“We have a problem: We operate within a culture that is too accepting of abuse, in all of its manifestations. This can be the ritual humiliation of models, belittling of assistants, power plays, and screaming fits. We have come to see this as simply a part of the job,” she writes, later explaining that the casual, creative nature of fashion’s work leads to such harassment.
“Why do I feel compelled to write this? Because we have reached a turning point,” she said. “This could be the moment at which everyone within the fashion industry takes stock of where we are, and the culture we operate within and perpetuate. This could be a moment to be honest about the behavior we sanction, a pause, or a moment of self-reflection.”
Campbell moves on to illustrate instances in which sexual abuse can occur (i.e. solo casting sessions at the private homes of photographers), and calls out male models as victims too. She writes that while the industry has previously shed a light on alleged accounts against Terry Richardson, nothing has been done, and no other photographers, stylists, and boldface names have been accused.
She takes a moment to confirm she has never experienced such abuse.
“It is worth pausing at this moment to say that I have no first-hand experience of sexual abuse within fashion,” she writes. “I would also like to state that throughout my 12 years as a model, I have been unbelievably privileged to work with such extraordinary people. They are funny, talented, exciting and cultured human beings. And I am grateful, and very lucky.”
Her takeaway? “It comes down to responsibility,” she concludes, adding, “And to all the others: Don’t stay silent. Your inaction is complicity.”
Campbell’s message comes in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, which have prompted many in Hollywood to speak out about personal experiences. In her letter, she specifically addresses model Cameron Russell, who shared anonymous stories of sexual abuse in the fashion industry on her Instagram page. Campbell says that move inspired her.