Fashion’s Dark Underbelly Sees the Light
March 19, 2018
The fashion industry is following suit of other industries with a moral reckoning caused by an unlikely source: the Instagram meme account @shitmodelmgmt. The account’s anonymous administrator posted a list of people, including photographers and designers, for models to avoid based on claims of sexual assault or harassment. The list took shape after the administrator asked for stories of sexual harassment in the fashion industry, facilitating a platform for these names to come to light.
The goal of naming detestable people — all of which were men — in the fashion industry joins the growing wave of accountability that has swept beyond Hollywood and the media industry. The list itself is reminiscent of the aptly named “Shitty Media Men” list that documented reports of sexual assault or harassment by men in the media industry. This predecessor list was a crowd-sourced spreadsheet created by journalist Moira Donegan to warn other young females in the magazine and publishing industry and create a place for women to share stories and help one another without the fear of retribution that the stories would not be believed. Donegan explained her reasons for creating the spreadsheet in an article for The Cut.
“Anonymous, it would protect its users from retaliation: No one could be fired, harassed or publicly smeared for telling her story when that story was not attached to her name,” Donegan wrote in the article. “The spreadsheet made a presumption that is still seen as radical: That it is men, not women, who are responsible for men’s sexual misconduct.”
In both cases, the lists disappeared from the internet once they reached extreme exposure due to negative public reactions. The administrator of @shitmodelmgmt wrote in a story on Instagram that the list was removed due to a series of violent threats.
While these lists seem to be a positive step for society morally, valid criticisms exist surrounding the risks of lists that do not name the accuser because anyone could potentially falsely accuse without repercussion. Others feel differently. Steinhardt first-year Olivia O’Leary believes that the possible consequences of this system do not invalidate the lists.
“Everyone’s word or accusation should be taken seriously,” O’Leary said. “It should be taken seriously and not scoffed at but also with a grain of salt to evaluate the truth of it. I think [the list] is a good move forward because it is a way to oust people.”
For Stern first-year Ashley Adelberg, who is signed with Ford Models, the blacklist posting struck a personal note.
“I’ve worked with some of the people on this list, and it saddens me to know the girls who have only recently reported their actions,” Adelberg said. “I’m also upset when I look back and realize that could’ve been me.”
The responsibility then seems to fall on the public to be careful and cognizant of the accusations in these types of lists but also to presume the truth in the accusations, as many rightful accusations of powerful people have recently been made by those who previously hid the truth out of fear.
“It scares me how much evil is lurking in the underbelly of many industries,”Gallatin senior Daryl Ocampo said. “The movement that started in the film industry has started to spread, which I think is important. Scary as it seems, I think society is better off exposing these abusers and getting woken up by a splash of cold water to the face so they can get their sh-t together and create the proper reforms to keep people safe and comfortable.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 19 print edition. Email Faith Marnecheck at [email protected].