Models call out Victoria's Secret for refusing to protect them from harassment and abuse
Just days after The New York Times published a report detailing harassment and abuse that reportedly ran rampant at Victoria’s Secret and its parent company, L Brands, for years, a group of models is coming forward again. This time they’re calling out the company for refusing to adequately protect them from harassment and abuse and for not acknowledging the allegations in any meaningful way.
In a new letter, the Model Alliance—along with more than 100 models and partner Times Up—explains that they met with executives of L Brands and Victoria’s Secret last September after their first open letter in August 2019. In that meeting, they asked “that the company take concrete action to change its culture of misogyny and abuse.” However, they say that the company “refused to act” and “declined to make binding commitments to protect models and other workers from harassment.”
They say they were instead met with an email by Tammy Roberts Myers, the company’s Chief Communications Officer, that failed to acknowledge any planned actions. Instead, it only noted that the company is “in the process of continued learning and listening.”
In this new letter, the Model Alliance says, “In the face of the horrifying revelations from the past year, this response is utterly unacceptable.”
“The time for listening is long past; it’s time for Victoria’s Secret to take action to protect the people they profit from,” the letter continues. “Human rights violations can’t be stopped with a corporate rebranding exercise.”
The models also reiterate their request from the first letter that L Brands implement the RESPECT Program. The program would create “a binding commitment [to companies that] require their employees, agents, vendors, photographers, and other contractors to follow a code of conduct that protects everyone’s safety on the job.”
Along with an “independent, confidential complaint mechanism” where workers can address their concerns, the alliance is also asking for “a robust training program aimed toward prevention, to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities,” which would hopefully help prevent mistreatment and misconduct in the first place.
The Model Alliance ended their letter by stating their belief “in safety, freedom to work without fear of harassment, and real consequences for abusers. Victoria’s Secret’s failure to create an environment of accountability, both in-house and in their interactions with a network of agencies and creatives, undermines these values.”
Victoria’s Secret has been subject to criticism for years, but it became more widespread after one of the company’s top execs made transphobic and fatphobic comments in 2018. Six months ago, more than 100 models released an open letter to VS executives, first making public multiple instances of sexual harassment and abuse.
We continue to be saddened by the ways in which VS models have been treated, but also by what appears to be a complete lack of action on the part of execs at the company. Our eyes are on them, and we hope meaningful change to protect models going forward will happen—and soon.