After coming forward with her #metoo claim against Guess co-founder Paul Marciano last week, model Kate Upton is opening up about the misconduct she allegedly faced in 2010 and 2011 with Marciano.
Upton recently spoke with Time magazine, who heard the full story behind her #metoo allegations. She did not hold back, starting with the very first day of her lingerie shoot with Guess in July of 2010. “Paul Marciano said he wanted to meet with me. As soon as I walked in with photographer Yu Tsai, Paul came straight up to me, forcibly grabbed my breasts and started feeling them — playing with them actually. After I pushed him away, he said, ‘I’m making sure they’re real,'” Upton told Time.
Upton said she tried to avoid him touching her, but it didn’t really work. “He continued to touch me in a very dominating and aggressive way, grabbing my thighs, my arms to pull me closer, my shoulders to pull me closer, my neck, my breasts, and smelling me,” Upton said. “He then told Yu Tsai to leave us alone. I was able to send a quick text to Yu Tsai asking him to stay. He did, but that did not stop Paul’s constant grabbing. I was extremely shaken, surprised and scared.”
The touching only escalated, according to Upton. “At one point he forcibly grabbed the back of my head so that I could not move and started kissing my face and my neck,” Upton said. “I remember not wanting to say ‘Get off of me’ because I didn’t want to open my mouth to say anything because I didn’t want him to be able to put his tongue in my mouth.”
Upton told Time she had two options: do everything she could to wiggle away and avoid his pursuit, or “punch the CEO of Guess.”
“So I decided to just wiggle away,” Upton said.
According to Upton, Marciano also tried to take her to her hotel room. She declined, and was relived when Yu Tsai offered to walk her back.
It didn’t end there, though.
A month after the shoot, Upton was on another one where Marciano became a lot more persistent. “As soon as I went up to my hotel room, Paul started calling me asking to come up and see how my room is,” Upton said. “I politely declined several times. He continued to insist. He said he was already in the hotel lobby. He even called my room from the hotel lobby desk. After several denials, I just turned off my phone and locked the door and tried to get some sleep. I was terrified.”
Upton said she was fired from the shoot the next day. “I was devastated, especially because at this point no one from Guess had even seen me.”
The harassment continued at several other shoots, Upton said. She had a final shoot with the brand in May 2011, where Marciano was completely offensive about Upton’s appearance. “He said I was ‘disgusting’ and started telling people how unprofessional I was by spreading rumors that I was drunk on set and partying every night, which of course I wasn’t. I was then told to leave because Paul had said, ‘Get that fat pig off my set.'”
Her experience with Marciano really affected how she felt about herself. “It took a huge toll on my confidence and self-worth. I wanted to quit modeling. I constantly blamed myself after it happened: What am I doing to invite someone to treat me like that or grab me like that? I wondered if it was how I was presenting myself or what I was wearing. I started slumping my shoulders to hide my breast size, wearing baggy clothes, started despising my own body,” Upton told Time.
She also called for change in the modeling world. “The culture of complacency and tolerance in our industry needs to stop,” Upton said. “People know what is going on and have previously accepted it. And we can’t always require the victims to be the ones to speak up and tell their story because the victims only know their one story. The people around in the corporate offices or around the harassers every day know of every time they do this. They’re the ones who need to speak out.”
Marciano has denied the allegations entirely, calling them “preposterous” in a statement to Time. Marciano also said, “I fully support the #metoo movement. At the same time, I will not allow others to defame me and tarnish my reputation. I have pledged to Guess and its Board of Directors my full support and cooperation with a fair and impartial investigation.”
However, Tsai supported Upton’s claims, saying he witnessed the harassment Upton described.