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Cameron Russell asked models about sexual harassment. Here are 3 must-read responses.

The model and activist shines a light on an important issue.

Cameron Russell asked models about sexual harassment. Here are 3 must-read responses.
Cameron Russell at the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change in 2015. Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images.

It's been more than five years since model and activist Cameron Russell filmed her breakthrough TED Talk, "Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model."

Russell is a model who has consistently used her platform to advocate for topics she's passionate about, such as gender, race, and climate change. She's also one of the founders of Model Mafia, an ever-growing network of models fighting for more equitable and less exploitative working conditions.

In the wake of the ongoing assault and harassment scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein, and the ever-present issue of sexual harassment in the workforce — which, according to a 2015 survey, 1 in 3 women in the U.S. workforce have experienced — Russell decided to once again use her following and position to call attention to an important, if unpleasant, topic.


Russell launched the #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse campaign on social media, asking for stories about sexual harassment in the modeling world. The responses were eye-opening.

Similar to how actress Alyssa Milano's viral "Me Too" tweet and the internet's powerful response put a spotlight on just how widespread assault and harassment are, Russell's campaign put the focus on how rampant this is within the world of modeling, specifically. Models sent Russell their all-too-common horror stories, and she shared them on her Instagram profile.

Stories of young women, some of whom were underage, being coerced into situations beyond their comfort zones filled the page.

Trigger warning ⚠️ #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse

A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on

Stories of photographers asking inappropriate questions about the models' sex lives popped up multiple times.

Trigger warning ⚠️ #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse

A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on

There were even some stories that demonstrated how models were made to fear for their physical safety while at work.

Trigger warning ⚠️ #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse

A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on

How and why does this happen? For one, harassment is often normalized in the workspace, allowing predators to continue the behaviors without punishment.

A personal story from Russell shows how that happens. On Instagram, Russell explains the time she saw the definition of sexual harassment on a labor law poster, saying that it looked "like [her] job description." (emphasis added.)

"When I got home and looked up the definition online, it was so spot on it felt like someone who knew us ... and of course they did. Sexual harassment is unacceptably commonplace. I sat down to try to make a list of my own experiences. Non consensual kisses, spanks, gropes, and pinches. Failing to provide adequate changing space, shaming in response to requests for adequate changing space. Bullying by editors, photographers, stylists, and clients to go topless or nude. Publishing nudity after contractually agreeing not to. Non consensual massage. Inappropriate emails, text messages, and phone calls. Pressure while underage to consume alcohol. Being directed to 'pretend like I'm your boyfriend.' Being forced to sleep at the photographer's home rather than provided a hotel. Having my job threatened if I don't participate. Being called difficult, feminist, virgin, diva when speaking up or saying no. Being unclear about boundaries because so many boundaries have been crossed. I lose count. And this is only what's easy to share, what's as commonplace as 9am call times, fittings, and lunch."

Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for H&M.

No job should include abuse. No matter the industry. And it's past time to start taking claims of workplace harassment seriously.

Highlighting acts of normalized harassment, such as those shared by Russell, is a great start. It helps us all understand the devastating effects of these  actions that go excused on a much-too-regular basis.

Setting firm boundaries and letting other people who've been harassed or assaulted understand that they're not alone is a step toward stopping it in the future. It's a step toward a culture that will no longer tolerate these actions.

For more stories from the #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse campaign, visit Russell's Instagram page or check out the hashtag directly on Twitter and Instagram.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less