After model Cameron Russell shared her own sexual assault story under the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse, more and more models are speaking up about their own experiences of sexual abuse, on and off the job. For the past week, Russell has lent her Instagram to sharing direct messages she's received from models all over the world who want to share their stories anonymously, to spread awareness about sexual abuse within the fashion and modeling industries. The latest model to come forward is Victoria's Secret Angel Sara Sampaio.
After posting her support for Russell, the Portuguese model posted on Instagram detailing a recent experience with the French magazine Lui, in which they published a nude photo of the model without her consent. According to Sampaio, it was agreed beforehand that she would not go nude for the shoot. But several of the shots included accidental nudity, which the Lui team assured Sampaio would not make the final cut. And when the issue hit newsstands, they'd chosen two cover images of Sampaio in which her nipples are exposed.
"My agency and I insisted on having a clear agreement in place to protect myself in order to control the choice I made around not being shot nude," she wrote. "Even with the 'No Nudity' clause in my agreement with Lui, I was aggressively pressured to do nude shots on set, asking me why I didn't want to show my nipples or go fully nude. Throughout the shoot day, I needed to constantly defend myself and reiterate my boundaries with no nude images, making sure I covered myself as best as I could."
Sampaio explained that she noticed the accidental exposures of parts of her body while reviewing the final images with the team, who insisted those images would not be printed in the final editorial. She went on to relate her experience to similar situations she's been put it in the past, where photographers or stylists would cajole or demand that she pose nude because she'd previously done so in other photoshoots. But she makes a good point about being bullied on set: It's her body, her choice.
"Many times, I was showed nude images of myself as examples to coerce me into posing nude, and whenever I stood my ground and refused, I was criticized and judged as being difficult," she wrote. "I am comfortable with my body and with being nude in circumstances I consider a form of art --- this process comes naturally, and is very thoughtful, creative and collaborative. Throughout my career, I've been very selective with when and how I do shoots with nudity."
Finally, she declared that just because she consented to posing nude in the past doesn't give anyone permission to assume she'd do it again. "I have the right to show my body how, when, where and for whatever purpose I choose. It's my choice. And when I make that choice, I expect to be treated with respect and professionalism." Sampaio says that she is working with her agency and attorney to pursue legal action against Lui. At the time of publishing, the French magazine has yet to respond to Sampaio's allegations.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).