Chung had to strip for "creepy men"

NYREE MCFARLANE
Last updated 13:38 26/06/2013
alexa
Getty Images

THE SEEDY SIDE OF MODELLING: Alexa Chung has said that when she first started out "creepy men" would often ask her to 'strip off'. Even more concerning is that famous photog Terry Richardson has seemed to make a brand out of such behaviour.

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Alexa Chung was "discovered" as a model at the tender age of 16 while hanging out at Brit music fest Reading, but she quit just four years later saying that she had developed "low self-esteem" and a "distorted body image" through working in the industry.

Well we can understand why in light of her latest tales of those early days. 

The 29-year-old it-girl (she has a Mulberry bag named after her: that's like having a degree in "it") has said she had to endure years of "creepy men" taking advantage of her lack of experience and asking her to do inappropriate things in order to make it in the modelling world.

She says she didn't even tell her parents about the incidents, as she felt that what she was doing was "very wrong".

"I actually kept modelling very separate," the TV presenter told Cosmopolitan. "I already knew it was wrong. So, you know, if there was a casting where some creepy man there had gone on to his flat in Ilford, and, you know, 'Take your clothes off...' and if I'd have done it, I won't tell my mum because I know that's wrong." 

"You had lots of castings where they were like, "This is for swimwear", and in hindsight, I look back and think, "Did you really need an 18-year-old girl to strip in your front room?"

"I get flashbacks now. Loads of flashbacks. I'll be reminded of something because I've sort of blocked it out and I don't really think of those days... God, did I have low self-esteem then."

Alexa's story is just the tip of the iceberg: there are plenty more tales of young models being exploited:

Kate Moss has spoken up about these images of her, taken when she was just 16 by female photographer Corinne Day: "I see a 16-year-old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird," she said in an interview with Vanity Fair. "But they were like: If you don't do it, then we're not going to book you again. So I'd lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it. I never felt very comfortable about it." 

There's this.

And, then there are the tales of rural Siberian women as young as 13 - perhaps younger - being exploited by Russian and American modelling scouts in the documentary Girl Model: 

Of course a discussion of this sort is not complete without mentioning the man that is synonymous with the words "creepy" and "photographer": Terry Richardson. He's the guy that got Kate Upton to do this.

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He's the guy that many models say crosses the line.

"Of all the fine folks I've frolicked au natural for, he's the only one who's left me feeling like I needed to take two showers," said model Jamie Peck on Gloss. She adds that he stripped completely naked during his second shoot with her and asked her to perform sex acts on him - all the while talking about his upcoming Miu Miu shoot with celebrities Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup.

So basically, if you do 'a', you can come to 'b'. 

Danish model Rie Rasmussen has also said that Richardson, 47, who likes to be called Uncle Terry, "takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of."

And yet he remains one of the most successful - and rich - fashion photographers out there (he's in fact currently filming a documentary about Lady Gaga). There's something wrong with that. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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