The casting director, a Dutch man in his 50s with a large paunch, looked at me, his eyes darting around my body. “Take off your top and show me your torso,” he said. I was exhausted after 14 hours of castings, and so I did what I was told and removed my undershirt to reveal my rather pallid chest. After a quick glance, the casting director returned to his seat in the adjacent room and muttered to his stylist, “He’s beautiful, but he’s fat.” Sound travels easily in a hard-floored warehouse; I had moved to the changing room, but I heard his words clearly. I felt humiliated.
I had walked the catwalk twice at Paris Fashion Week, worked with a range of talented photographers and stylists, and was part of a world filled with staggeringly beautiful people. But this wasn’t the first time I had been called overweight, despite my jutting rib cage and hips. At a fitting for a Japanese menswear show in Paris in the summer of 2014, a group of elderly women from the designer’s team gathered behind me to laugh and lightly slap my buttocks as the material stretched to cover my rear. On another shoot, a stylist who had started drinking vodka at 9 a.m. told me I was “handsome” but needed to “stop being lazy and do some fucking crunches.” I didn’t like any of it—and I certainly didn’t like being called “beautiful” but “fat.” I decided then, that summer, to quit modeling.
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It is fair to say that exploitation is experienced across genders with more emphasis on women as they are more vulnerable.
While most experts agree that women are the more likely to be victims of sexual crimes, according to a report conducted in the US, , one in 71 men said they had been raped or had been the target of attempted rape, usually by a man they knew.
The sad thing is the culture of machismo is hindering men who have been exploited or molested to come forward as they would therefore be seen as weak.