Martha Stewart claims she was sexually harassed as a 16-year-old, when she was working as a model. She said it happened during an audition for an advertising agency.
“I was asked to wear a bikini under my clothes. I thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’re doing a beach commercial or something,'” Stewart, now 76, told People Magazine. She explained that during one audition, an executive told her to take off all of her clothes in a board room.
“So I go into the room and there’s a table with all men sitting around it and it’s an advertisement agency, I can’t remember which one it was," Shewart said. "They said, ‘Now you can take your clothes off,’ and I said, ‘Oh, is this where are we doing the commercial? Are we wearing bikinis in the commercial.’ They said, ‘No, but as long as you’re here we might as well see what you look like.’ I thought that was harassment of the first order.”
At the time, Stewart was still in high school. She said even at that point, she had her "own radar" when it came to uncomfortable situations. In this case, she walked out of the room and refused to take off her clothes.
"That’s harassment, but there’s other kinds of harassment," she said of the incident.
Stewart credited her parents with giving her the confidence to get out of that situation.
“I think women just have to understand that you can say no,” she told People. “You can walk out of a room. It might hurt your career so you’ll find something better somewhere else.”
Stewart came forward with her story after Alyssa Milano inspired others to share their personal stories of sexual harassment on social media with the #MeToo hashtag. Women in the entertainment industry have been sharing their stories after The New York Times and The New Yorker reported on dozens of women accusing producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.