Apparently Ashley Graham Was Sexually Harassed at 17, & The Story Is Absolutely Horrifying

This week on The View, model Ashley Graham opened up about her own experiences with sexual harassment, describing a traumatizing moment she had with a photo assistant when she was only 17. It's something she's hinted about before, but now with the release of her book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, coupled with the impact of the #MeToo movement, Graham has become more vocal. 

“A photo assistant said, ‘Come here, I want to talk to you,’” Graham recounted, journeying back to a dark day on set. “He lured me into this hallway, pushed me into a closet. He exposed himself and he said, ‘Look at what you did to me all day long. Now touch it.’” Obviously she freaked out and ran away, but what stuck with her was the worry that this would affect her modeling career. She thought "I’m never going to get hired for a job again."

If #MeToo and the Time's Up movement had been around when Graham was a teenager, she would have made more noise about the harassment. “If I knew that all of these women were standing up and saying ‘Me Too’, I would have smacked that guy and been like ‘he’s a pedophile.’”

However, it is important to note that before Graham even had the chance to get to the meat of her story, Joy Behar interrupted her saying, “That’s why you bring your mother to the shoot.” While this was said with genuine concern for a young Ashley Graham facing down men in New York at 17––maybe even acting as a warning to young girls watching the show––it came across as premature blame, or even perhaps a you could have prevented this comment. It indicates a view that people need to take preventative actions so that they don’t get sexual assaulted, rather than teaching people that they just shouldn’t sexually assault others. Period.

Graham's willingness to open up about sexual misconduct is definitely a result of the positive landscape movements like #MeToo and Time's Up have created––one where people feel comfortable sharing their stories because they know they have support.  If someone is sharing their story with you, never question them or try to diagnose their experience. Believe them. Support them.

Header Image: Ashley Graham / Instagram