After decades of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein came to light last week, many women are coming forward with their own stories of career-related harassment from people across various industries. One of those women: Martha Stewart.
The 76-year-old lifestyle mogul opened up to People about being sexually harassed when she was working as a model at age 16. She described how she was asked to wear a bikini under her clothes in order to go on an audition.
“I thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’re doing a beach commercial or something,'” she said.
“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. 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,’" she explained. "I thought that was harassment of the first order.”
The then-high schooler immediately felt that something was up. So what did she do?
“I just walked out of the room," she told People. "I said, ‘I’m sorry, gentleman. This is not what I’m here for.’ And I left.”
“That’s harassment, but there’s other kinds of harassment,” she noted.
Stewart hopes her story will inspire women and girls who face uncomfortable situations in the workplace. “I think women just have to understand that you can say no,” she said. “You can walk out of a room. It might hurt your career so you’ll find something better somewhere else.”