The Bruce Weber Allegations Shed Light on Sexual Misconduct in Fashion (Racked)
A culture that reveres photographers and dehumanizes models may be to blame.
By Nadra Nittle, Racked, December 11, 2017
In many ways, modeling is a peculiar industry. A model can show up for a job fully clothed only to be asked to disrobe without warning. Colleagues may touch a model’s body during a shoot or make snide remarks about it — “lose weight” and “do something with your hair.” Models and photographers may meet in private spaces, like studios and apartments, with no observers. And drug and alcohol use during such meetings typically doesn’t raise eyebrows.
The intimate nature of the business is exactly why sexual harassment flourishes, models say. But as the national dialogue about sexual misconduct inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandalreverberates far beyond Hollywood, models are sharing their experiences with sexual misconduct and fighting back. Their stories, and lawsuits, mean the fashion industry must address whether it has been complicit in fostering sexual abuse.
Mark Ricketson, the second model to publicly accuse star fashion photographer Bruce Weber of sexual misconduct, suggested that the fashion industry’s culture made him vulnerable to exploitation. During a news conference Tuesday at attorney Lisa Bloom’s suburban Los Angeles firm, Ricketson described meeting Weber for the first time. He said the encounter took place 13 years ago, when he was just 18, and that his manager stressed how important it was that Weber “like” him. The session began with a “breathing exercise” that ultimately left Ricketson traumatized, he alleges.
“During my appointment, I was alone with Bruce in his office,” Ricketson said. “He told me I ‘looked tense’ and proceeded to press his thumb on my forehead. He then took my hand and told me to ‘find the energy’ by guiding my hand and rubbing it on one of three places: my forehead, my chest, or my stomach. Each time the ‘energy’ in my stomach would get lower and lower until I had to navigate the remaining space left before having to touch myself.”