15 actions every fashion model needs to use in order to protect herself from sexual predators!
*These opinions are expressed by E. J. Moran, former international fashion model with over fourteen years of experience.
1. Don’t openly trust anyone who approaches you and tells you they can make you a star!
Always be wary of this sort of comment. If they are true professionals, they will tell you who they are, hand you a business card, and/or give you their social media info. Also, they may tell you about events in the modeling world that may be of interest. They WILL NOT pressure you into coming to their studio, etc. etc. BE WARY AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
2. Choose your agency well. Just like pedophiles may look to work at schools, churches, in athletic organizations, and etc., predators may look to work, or own, agencies, studios, or anyplace which has a high concentration of their prey. Remember, agents need clients to pay their bills. Find one who puts protecting their model’s safety above amassing clients, no matter who the client is!
3. Be prepared; Creeps will come out of the woodwork!
Learn the reputation of people in the industry and remember— some agencies, photographers, production companies, and etc. have enablers who prize keeping their job over doing what’s right.
4. If you have an audition at someone’s home, in a hotel room, or another non-standard place, think before you go and prepare how you will act. You should do this anyway, but particularly in an unusual situation.
*Always have a significant other to pull out of a hat. Use your fictitious or real significant other as a way to get out of a difficult situation, i.e. ‘I’m so sorry but I can’t stay long, my boyfriend is waiting for me downstairs…in a car around the corner, at the coffee shop across the street….you get the picture. It’s even better if your significant other is a trainer, boxer, martial arts expert…etc. In fact, you can drop hints yourself about practicing self-defense, martial arts.
*Bring another person with you, especially at night. I often had my brother chauffeuring me.
*Go to sketchy locations and appointments with other models, a friend, or a relative…don’t go alone!
*Have people call and check on you.
*Mention that you told so and so where you were going.
*Remember to give off the right vibe. If you behave provocatively off camera, you are sending a message. Some people will take this the wrong way.
5. Pretend you have an alcohol allergy, are taking medication, already had a few drinks elsewhere, and etc.…. If you don’t want to take drugs or drink alcohol, you don’t have to. You don’t have to drink or take drugs to be cool. Being friendly, funny, engaging, and professional is enough. And remember, models are thin. Frail bodies cannot consume huge amounts of any narcotic without significant consequences. Under the influence, your judgement will go down and you may end up doing or saying something you will regret, but the damage will already be done.
6. When in doubt, bring your own water, coffee, tea or soft drinks. If you have an audition, test, or booking, and you have heard things about this place or are skeptical for any reason, consider bringing along your own refreshments. It’s not a bad practice no matter what….
7. You don’t have to take your clothes off in front of anyone. If the client wants you to try on clothing of any kind, you have the absolute right to change in privacy…alone. They should have a changing room, bathroom, even a closet for you to use and they should not barge in! If they try to—and it happened to me—laugh it off and say something like ‘Yikes, I’m so shy…please go away!
8. It’s your decision whether you want to model for nudes, lingerie, or bathing suits.. Your agency should ask you where your limits are, and those limits should be respected. Do not feel pressured; again, it’s your right!
9. You don’t have to give your address to anyone but if you have and someone in the business has unexpectedly visited your home, you don’t have to let them in. Follow your intuition. If you don’t trust the person, once they are in your house, you are prey!
10. If you have a booking, make sure you sign a release form. This protects you from the photographs being used for any other purpose other than the one described to you.
11. The more you value yourself, the more you will be valued by every professional in the industry. You don’t have to be haughty about it. In fact, being friendly, outgoing, and easy to work with is best….but you can still be reserved so people know your boundaries.
12. Learn the reputation of people in the industry.
13. Protect your social media outlets in all forms. Make sure they are secure from being tagged without your permission, from bots, and from malicious intruders.
14. Remember, you will occasionally be caught off guard and will need to think on your feet quickly. You can always buy time before making a decision. Here are some examples to use:
‘I just got another phone call; can I call you right back?’
‘I need to think about that; let me get back to you.’
‘I’ve got to take care of something right now, but I’ll contact you later.’
‘I’m not sure I can fit that in, but I’ll get right back to you.’
You can always buy time and it’s the best thing to do when you are feeling unsure.
15. Finally, read or listen to my book ‘Shadow Crimes!’ It’s available through all online sellers. Although the story is about a young fashion model in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s—well before the internet—the dangers are the same and have been since the beginning of time!