In October, Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio detailed an experience with French magazine Lui where nude photos of her were published without her consent. “I have the right to show my body how, when, where and for whatever purpose I choose. It's my choice,” she said at the time. “And when I make that choice, I expect to be treated with respect and professionalism."
Now, we have more insight on the situation thanks to Sampaio’s interview with Net-A-Porter’s Porter magazine. “Models are expected to show up on set, just be pretty, do our job, and not say a word,” the 26-year-old tells the publication. “When we do open our mouths, we’re branded as difficult, opinionated, troublemakers; we are told that we don’t know what we are talking about.”
Should someone speak out, Sampio explains, they’re treated as if they’re disposable, because what one girl won’t do, another will. She adds that even though modeling is one of the few industries where women outearn men, they still are not respected and are often violated — which is how she felt after the incident with Lui. “I’m fine with nudity. I have done nudity in the past, but I don’t do nudity for men’s magazines,” she explains. “I can suggest nudity, but I don’t want to show my boobs to a men’s magazine.”
But after a bit of push and pull from Lui on set, where she felt pressured to relent, she did not, and photos were taken as her top fell from her shoulders. She was promised they’d only use the shot from the neck up. When the magazine hit newsstands, though, Sampaio’s nipple was very clearly visible on the cover, as were both breasts. “I felt violated,” she tells Porter. “So, what, now every time I’m on a set, do I have to delete the photos to make sure nobody uses them?”
It isn’t fair, she says, for her to be punished for being sexy. And the fact that she’s a Victoria’s Secret model shouldn’t be used against her, either. “I think it’s kind of hypocritical that now people want everyone to be equal, they want everyone to be a feminist. But if a girl is being sexy because she wants to be sexy, people are saying, ‘Oh, no, you can’t be sexy.’ Isn’t that anti-feminism?”
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).