Over 100 Top Models + Time's Up Join Model Alliance In Open Letter to Victoria's Secret

On Tuesday morning, over 100 models, including Christy Turlington Burns, Edie Campbell, Karen Elson, Milla Jovovich, Doutzen Kroes, and Gemma Ward, signed an open letter addressed directly to Victoria’s Secret. The letter petitioned the lingerie brand to take concrete actions in protecting models against sexual misconduct.

The letter was properly addressed to Victoria’s Secret’s CEO John Mehas and it pulled no punches:

We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret. In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria's Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation. From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls.

L Brands CEO Les Wexner (l) and former CMO Ed Razek (r) in happier times.

L Brands CEO Les Wexner (l) and former CMO Ed Razek (r) in happier times.

The letter then proceeds to invite Victoria’s Secret to join the RESPECT Program —a program of the Model Alliance—is the only existing anti-sexual harassment program designed by and for models.

Signatory companies make a binding commitment to require their employees, agents, vendors, photographers and other contractors to follow a code of conduct that protects everyone’s safety on the job, and reduces models’ vulnerability to mistreatment. Models have access to an independent, confidential complaint mechanism, with swift and fair resolution of complaints and appropriate consequences for abusers. Further, RESPECT includes a robust training program aimed toward prevention, to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.

“Corporations tend to treat the discovery of abuses as public-relations crises to be managed rather than human-rights violations to be remedied,” says Sara Ziff, the founder and executive director of the Model Alliance. “The RESPECT Program provides Victoria’s Secret an opportunity not only to right the wrongs of the past but also to work towards prevention.”

Ziff recently penned an essay for the Cut detailing her own encounter with Epstein as a young model. She highlighted just how long an imbalance of power and lack of protections have “plagued” the industry. She wrote: “Now, we need the support of agencies, publishing companies, and fashion brands who want to do better by the talent who they purport to protect.”

In November, the Model Alliance issued a statement following disgraced L Brands Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek’s infamous Vogue interview in advance of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Razek retired from Victoria’s Secret on Monday.

British Vogue's September 2019 Issue Shares 'Forces for Change' Cover By Peter Lindbergh

Iconic photographer Peter Lindbergh photographs the cover of British Vogue’s September 2019 issue, guest edited by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

Iconic photographer Peter Lindbergh photographs the cover of British Vogue’s September 2019 issue, guest edited by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex guest edits British Vogue’s September 2019 issue, considered the most important issue of the year. Editor-in-chief-Edward Enninful invited Meghan to appear on the cover, but she declined, saying it would be considered “boastful”. With minions clamoring to criticize the Duchess at every turn in the road, declining was absolutely the correct decision.

Instead, the September 2019 British Vogue cover features 15 women who are “trailblazing changemakers, united by their fearlessness in breaking barriers”, according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.

The female ensemble of “trailblazing changemakers” includes activist actor Jane Fonda, climate change advocate, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and supermodel now maternal health advocate Christy Turlington Burns.

Markle has worked on the project for seven months, connecting with Michelle Obama and persuading her husband Prince Harry to join the dialogue with world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Rounding out the list are Adwoa Aboah, mental health campaigner and model; Adut Akech, Model and former refugee (although she says she will always be a refugee); Ramla Ali, boxer; Sinead Burke, diversity advocate and lecturer; Gemma Chan, campaigner and actor; Laverne Cox, LGBTQIA+ advocate and actor; Salma Hayek Pinault, actor, producer and women’s rights advocate; Francesca Hayward, royal ballet principal dancer; Jameela Jamil, body positivity advocate and actor; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and feminist; and Yara Shahidi, founder of Eighteen x 18 and actor (and adored by Michelle Obama).

Meghan said: “These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, to take the year’s most-read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today.

“Through this lens I hope you’ll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light.

“I hope readers feel as inspired as I do by the forces for change they’ll find within these pages.”

"To have the country's most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honour, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise," said Enninful. The September 2019 issue hits newsstands on Friday, August 2.

The cover is photographed by Peter Lindbergh — his first British Vogue cover since September 1992. Many of the women were photographed via video links.

The 16th spot on the cover will appear in print as a silver reflective mirror, to show how you, the reader, are part of this extraordinary moment in time – and to encourage you to use your own platform to bring change.

The Duchess will introduce Forces for Change in her own words in her guest editor’s letter, in addition to her interview with America’s former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Meghan turned down the offer to feature on the issue cover, preferring to focus on the women she admires, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, said. Photograph by Peter Lindbergh.

Meghan turned down the offer to feature on the issue cover, preferring to focus on the women she admires, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, said. Photograph by Peter Lindbergh.

Is Tennis Champ Naomi Osaka A 'Baby-Faced Assasin'? Allure August 2019 Skims the Surface

Abdul Sillah is hardly a household name in the sports world. At a time when Donald Trump is telling people of color to go back where they came from, it’s noteworthy that Sillah arrived in the United States from Sierra Leone.

AOC discovered Sillah reading Allure Magazine’s August 2019 cover story featuring rising tennis star Naomi Osaka. Lensed for Allure by Wai Lin Tse, Naomi Osaka didn’t know that she would be eliminated at July 2019 Wimbledon in her first round, losing to Yulia Putlintseva.

Unlike Serena Williams, whose powerful muscles dominate the pages of fashion shoots, Osaka’s do not. Sillah has trained both women, giving him a comparative lens into the superb two athletes.

Allure opens their cover story Naomi Osaka Wants to Win More Than Anyone Else with Brennan Kilbane’s observation:

“Naomi Osaka serves a tennis ball at a speed of 125 miles per hour. I do not need to tell you that this is nuts fast: 125 miles per hour is almost twice the maximum speed of an adult cheetah as it bounds across the savanna toward the jugular of a gazelle; 125 miles per hour is as fast as a Bugatti Veyron coming at you at 125 miles per hour from across a tennis court.”

Fitness coach Sillah chats with Kilbane on the bench, calling his client Osaka the “Baby-Faced Assassin.” Serena was “the Closer”, as “fury coursed through her veins from the moment she set foot on the court until the moment she set foot on the podium”.

Sillah, “whose voice is softer than a chinchilla wrapped in Egyptian cotton” summarizes Osaka’s style differently. “Nothing about her gives warning of the existence of several reserves of rage bubbling just under the surface of her skin, and by the time she sends a 125-mile-per-hour tennis ball directly at you, it is too late, and rest in peace.”

No longer ranked No. 1 in women’s tennis — but holding at No. 2 inspire of Wimbledon — Osaka is facing many mental and emotional challenges at age 21. In fact, her immense physical prowess is not delivering, causing John McEnroe to wonder aloud at Wimbledon if Osaka’s large numbers of business and endorsement contracts, coupled with her celeb status, have become a distraction. (Note that tennis great Billie Jean King wondered if Serena also has too many irons in the fire.)

Add to this tennis celebrity brew, 15-year-old Coco Gauff, whose wildcard entry at Wimbledon warmed hearts far and ride. The 15-year-old American from Atlanta rose 172 places to world No.141 in post Wimbledon rankings, from No.313 before the tournament.

Learn more about Naomi Osaka’s personal history at Allure. But note also that the least of Osaka’s current real-world concerns is ‘Allure’ question 1: What’s your best beauty tip? Naomi proceeds to deliver a series of canned beauty answers promoting her role as a brand ambassador for Shiseido, which owns Anessa and Bare Minerals.

That’s a mighty tricky tightrope Naomi Osaka is navigating in a world demanding authenticity in its stars.

In a real-world where our teen suicide rate is skyrocketing and superficial pressures dominate in our Instagram-life world, Naomi doesn’t touch any topic including her emotional moments beating Serena last September and subsequent followup communications with Williams. Nor does she reflect in any way around pressures on the court or being downgraded after losing matches she should have won in 2019.

For the real-deal story about Serena and Naomi, turn to the infinitely meatier (I blame this on the writer, not Osaka) Serena Williams interview in American Vogue’s August 2019 cover story.