If recent events have taught us anything about sexual assault, it’s that it’s too common in all major industries, and throughout everyday life.
One model is doing everything she can to ensure that sexual assault stays away from the world of fashion.
Alison Pelletier and CEO Mark Willingham have partnered up for an app to help fight sexual assault.
Pelletier, a New-York based fitness model, is now the marketing manager of Agent Inc, an app that allows models, managers, and agencies alike to leave client and photo shoot reviews, and share their experiences with others in the industry.
Pelletier told IBT about her reasoning for her app idea,
“If I had to guess, I would estimate that more than 90% of women models have been sexually harassed or assaulted during their careers. Although times have changed, the modelling industry has basically remained the same for 60 plus years. I have personally experienced it in different forms from ‘the lighting is perfect so we would like to get some more natural shots’ and ‘let’s try some with your top off’ to ‘now, we want some nude photos.'”
If you aren’t familiar with the way photo shoot payments are conducted, according to Pelletier, models are often living paycheck to paycheck, their modeling gigs inclusive with their reputation, opening up room for more sexual harassment cases.
“As once happened to me, the client can become upset because they ‘need to get some nude shots’ and that this was already agreed to between them and the modeling agency. With me, the client called my agent on the spot and the agent sided with the client so as to ‘not rock the boat’.”
The other source of inspiration for Pelletier is the heavy response model Cameron Russell has been getting on her social media, with victims of sexual assault of all ages, sex, and gender coming forward and sharing their stories, which she’s been posting all over her Instagram.
Of course, these claims have (rightfully) cost a lot of big companies a few known names, and definitely left a huge hole in Hollywood’s reputation as lawsuits fly in from all corners.
Pelletier shares the injustice of photographers getting young models drunk in order to “loosen them up” for these situations.
“At this age [16-years-old] being put in a situation where they must make on-the-spot decisions is not only wrong, but can also be illegal. I know of a situation where a photographer offered a young model ‘a drink or two to loosen up a bit’. Young models are left grappling with whether to say no to an adult, and if voicing their discomfort will kill their burgeoning career. Of course, one or two drinks can lead down some very dark paths during a shoot; especially when illegally offered to a minor. Then, what is next during the shoot?”
As of right now, Pelletier has garnered over 6,000 models to sign up for Agent Inc, according to IBT.
Pelletier and Willingham have tied up any loose ends regarding the app, even forcing users to pass criminal background and sex offender checks upon joining. Pelletier said,
“We are implementing so many safeguards in the Agent Inc. platform that, in addition to our zero-tolerance mindset, we believe that we will eventually come close to 100% eradication of harassment.”
It’s wonderful to see major changes being made in such a sexualized culture.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, and hopefully many more will join the Agent Inc App and use it to their benefits in order to prevent any more assault or harassment in the fashion industry.