Power is an interesting concept that depends more on perception and presumption than on reality. Consider the topic of fashion models, who quite exclusively possess the qualities that commercial interests need in the industry of advertising. The models are capable of setting the tone for their own employment. They can demand the standards of behavior expected from the industry that requires their services. Is it simple coercion that has set the stage for the abuse that has recently arisen around Victoria’s Secret, and the questionable relationship between Leslie Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein that seems to exploit the models necessary for Victoria’s Secret.
An open letter signed by over 100 Victoria’s Secret models to CEO John Mehas demanded prevention of misconduct along with protection of models. Among the signers were Doutzen Kroes, Christy Turlington, and Caitriona Balfe, and included the Model Alliance and Sara Ziff, and also the organization Time’s Up. The letter revealed the unique relationship of offenders with Victoria’s Secret that provided access to employees intent on their careers, while predatory behavior of associated officials may have been the purpose behind the scenes. This placed models in ambiguous predicaments of attempting serious professional careers while the true determination from employers and other associates was more devious and self-serving. Connections between Victoria’s Secret and such associates are suspected to be equivocal in regard to the expressed reason for employment of models, and the access permitted and encouraged with characters who would do these models harm.
Predatory behavior by superiors toward employees has been rampant in the business world. The peculiar exposure to abuse of models whose stock-in-trade is physical demonstration and gravitas, are the qualities in demand for exploitation for nefarious purposes by others. That the employers of these women would so expose to danger these employees, is the underlying demand of redress required by the models and organizations signing the letter to CEO John Mehas and Victoria’s Secret. Les Wexner is chairman and CEO of L Brands Corporation, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret. Curious association between Les Wexner and a few of the wealthiest men around the globe, including politicians and political officeholders, puts an especially lurid slant on the venal harassment that many women face in the business world.
The letter from the models and organizations to the CEO of Victoria’s Secret, demanding respect and integrity in employment, seems to epitomize generally the exploitation of the peculiar qualities of women pursuing personal careers. The career of models exposes in particular, those who dare to display without apology, their particular qualities. An investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, now deceased, raises questions about abuse of women including models who may have been susceptible to predatory behavior by fashion industry leaders.
Sara Ziff of the Model Alliance has written in the past, about her interactions with Jeffrey Epstein. She believes her personal connections may have warned off offensive behavior, to which other young women were not so protected. In other words, trolling for victims among high-level associates by Epstein, may have been a 2-pronged attack. Women who were vulnerable to exploitation could be identified while placing those high-level public figures in compromising situations. This style of predatory behavior is recognizable by many women in the workplace. Imagine the susceptibility of career-minded women with a salable skill of personal presentation. For these career professionals to protect their status is crucial.