Cameron Russell, an American fashion model and women’s rights activist, has been using her Instagram to spotlight sexual abuse within the modeling industry. With over 50 posts featuring screenshots from direct messages that detail women’s real-life experiences with assault, her Instagram account has been transformed into a campaign for workplace equality.
#MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse has now become a popular hashtag for raising awareness about sexual assault in the workplace.
Out of respect for those who have been victimized by this corrupt system and were brave enough to share their experiences, I will not be directly quoting them in this article, as they did not explicitly give permission. However, their stories can be found on Russell’s Instagram (@cameronrussell).
Russell’s project echoes a similar hashtag that spread like wildfire on social media: #MeToo. It came about when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
With both #MeToo and Russell’s screenshots of anonymous direct messages from victims of workplace abuse, the sheer number of posts speak for themselves. Russell has done something amazing simply by listening to these women and girls who have been forced into complacency and silence.
Sadly, exposing the enormity of this issue is only half the battle. The stigma that surrounds sexual assault victims makes it incredibly difficult for them to come forward.
While the mass amount of workplace nightmares that these women have shared with Russell is alarming, it may also be reassuring for other girls who previously felt like they were the only ones experiencing such harassment. Now these women know that they are not alone. It’s time to start holding sexual predators accountable and to stop shaming victims.
Despite attempts to keep this gross mistreatment under wraps, the modeling industry has already been exposed through various scandals and stories of unfair workplace environments. As the allegations against powerful men such as Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson gain more attention, you would think that, finally, sexual abuse will not be tolerated in our society. However, when numerous women come forward accusing these men, it seems like sexual abuse just keep happening.
If you’re wondering what’s next for Russell, she wrote on Instagram, “Continuing to post will not solve this problem. Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. By stepping away to calmly plan next steps I can continue to be of service.”
She continued, “I am sorry I cannot respond to or post everyone’s story. I hope together we can find an outlet for this strength that unifies us further and challenges the status quo. For now, let us end with gratitude to the hundreds who came forward to share, and a celebration of our resilience.”
Russell continues her activism both on and off of social media, and it’s important for all of us to hear these stories. No one’s job, man or woman, should include abuse.
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