Supermodel and America's Next Top Model judge Ashley Graham is sharing an experience that adds to the chorus of #MeToo echoing the entertainment industry.
On an appearance on The View Tuesday, Graham discussed her experiences as a teenage model and shared a harrowing story from a photo shoot when she was 17 years old.
“I was shooting a big campaign, and a photo assistant said, ‘Come here, I wanna talk to you.’ And 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,' " she recalled.
Graham said that at the time she “prayed” no one would find out about the incident, lest she be labeled a “difficult model” and have trouble finding work. However, she said that if she had known then about the #MeToo movement, she said, “I would have smacked that guy… I probably would have just started screaming, I would have called my agency.”
“That was when I was 17 years old; I’m 30 now, and I know if somebody tried doing that to somebody who was younger on set…there’s so many things I would want to do and say to that person,” Graham added.
The View panel agreed that the #MeToo and anti-sexual misconduct movement sweeping the nation is helping young women prepare themselves and stand up for one another on set.
“People are watching,” host Whoopi Goldberg said. “Men and women are watching. They’re going, this is not going to work. We’re not doing this anymore.”
Graham has opened up about her experiences with sexual misconduct before. In her book A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, & Power Really Look Like, she shared that she was molested when she was only 10 years old by the son of a "family friend." The man exposed himself to her in the closet of a laundry room, and then made her touch his aroused penis.
"I was scared and quickly ran away," she wrote.
At age 12, she said that two aspiring male models, who were five years older than she, tried to get her in a hot tub with them alone.
One of the older male models once saw her on a separate occasion and made an outrageously crude comment about her hair, which she was wearing in braided pigtails.
"Ooh, a b— j— with handles," he allegedly said.
While she was understandably terrified in these moments, Ashley Graham stated that these encounters turned into what she once believed was self-confidence.
"It didn't matter how inappropriate, unsolicited, or confusing it was, any male attention was good attention as far as I was concerned," Graham wrote in her memoir.
It's safe to say that today Graham would tell her younger self to protect herself and welcome only wanted attention.