An Open Letter About Consent and Saying No. Written By Victoria’s Secret Model, Leomie Anderson
This Article Originally Appeared On Cracked China Cup.
In light of recent stories that have surfaced from young girls nudes being leaked, slut shaming, sexual assault and more, I felt it was important to reach out to my young readers and discuss the issue of consent, being pressured and the right to say NO.
I’m 23 years old and even with the limited choice of social media when I was in secondary school, I still remember the buzz that would engulf the entire building when a girl from either our school or the neighbouring schools got caught on camera doing something sexual or a sexual picture of hers got leaked. “Nah have you seen this sket [hoe] from so and so school? She sent this nasty picture to xyz over MSN, look!” would be the typical conversation as someones Sony Ericsson got passed around under the tables in the morning before lessons or on the playground at lunch; we were so young and immature that we couldn’t comprehend what was actually going on. This isn’t my usual topic to post but one of my followers asked me to have a heart to internet discussion about consent and pressure for my younger readers because, with the uncontrollable rise of social media and mixed messages that young people are exposed to, more and more young girls are falling victim to being pressured to do things and having their most intimate moments shared on the internet.
As a model, consent to sharing my image and having it taken is a big part of my job and at 23 I am grown and have my own voice and will always vocalise if I don’t want to do something or don’t feel comfortable on a shoot. When I was younger, if I felt uncomfortable with anything, I knew I could call my agency and get them to say no. When you’re at school, you don’t have that. You feel like you’re grown enough to deal with everything from experimenting with your makeup to experimenting with boys but the latter can be a lot trickier with much more devastating effects. I know so many girls who felt pressured into sending a picture or doing something with a boy because they liked him or believed him when he said he wouldn’t show or tell anybody and ended up the topic of tutor time; It’s a decision that takes a second to agree to but also only a second to be shared with others who you haven’t consented to seeing it. Sometimes you believe you can trust this person with these private images and videos but you should ask yourself “why does he need this in his possession?”.
I can’t tell you not to do what you want but I can tell you that some girls I know say their biggest regret in school was sharing an intimate picture or getting into a scenario where a video had or could have been leaked so I just want you all to know that you do have the option to say NO. I want you to know that if he/ she doesn’t want to accept your ‘no’ then he/she doesn’t respect you or your voice, so why should they be entitled to your body in any way, shape, form or snapchat? Saying NO doesn’t make you scared or frigid, it makes you smart and mature- you never want someone to be able to hold something against you or expose you. So please, all my young girls reading this, know that you don’t have to do anything that you aren’t fully comfortable with and that your NO means something.
– Leomie X