Fernanda Ly has spoken about her own experience of sexual assault as a young model in the fashion industry in a personal essay.
The Australian model made the admission in a survey by industry site, models.com, titled How Should A Model Be Treated.
In the heartbreaking essay, she recalled an incident when a stylist helping her get dressed on a photo shoot used the opportunity to feel her body up. “Countless times have I had to undress in undesirable public situations, but even now I can remember the disgusting feel of this man’s hands tracing my body,” she revealed.
Ly went on to highlight the vulnerability of underage girls in the industry, saying, “Most of us start when underaged, we develop and mature as women under all this as the norm.”
Admitting that there are too many people who take advantage of young models for their own satisfaction, Ly said, “A regular, normal minded human should not be attempting to prey on a girl who is there to work and is afraid of speaking up (as being someone ‘hard to work with’ may cost you a job).”
According to Ly, the reality of being a model is that you are treated as a commodity. “Your body is essentially your product to sell,” she admits.
Ly started modeling when she was 16-years-old and has since worked with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi.
In a passionate plea, she called for the industry to change, saying, “What has already happened has happened, but please do not let this continue to be so.”
An anonymous model responding to the survey also pleaded for change. “I think [the industry] could be better if everyone starts acting humanly. Unfortunately some clients think we are disposable dolls,” they wrote. “My wish is for girls that are actually working could talk without being blacklisted.”