Top model opens up on sexual abuse

A victim of sexual demands, Aaron who, however, could not give in to the predators told NewsDay Life & Style from New York that sex perverts have invaded the profession.

FORMER Miss Tourism Queen Worldwide (2019) Tania Aaron has  described the local modelling industry as a profession reduced to a platform for sexual exploitation.

A victim of sexual demands, Aaron who, however, could not give in to the predators told NewsDay Life & Style from New York that sex perverts have invaded the profession.

Some pageant organisers and other influential figures in the modelling industry have been accused of seeking sexual favours from models in exchange for winning pageants and this has left many Zimbabwean citizens with negative attitudes towards modelling.

“It is disheartening that the modelling industry has a lot of perverts. I would not be here if I was not strong and bold enough to stand up for myself in situations I had to encounter. I would not be respected if I had given in to the sexual demands,” she said.

Aaron who is also the former Miss International Zimbabwe (2018) and Miss Global Zimbabwe (2021) said the modelling industry should work on securing safe spaces for the girl child immune to manipulation.

“It is high time the industry created an association that protects this profession and not just allow anyone to manipulate young girls who want to grow in the industry. A lot could be done, starting with the government and ministry offices that are usually linked to modelling.”

Despite the challenges faced in this profession, Aaron is optimistic that there are bigger opportunities to come through her career, adding that she found freedom in modelling.

She recalls the best part of her career was when she embarked on empowering young girls and boys providing them with experiences to look out for when they go to represent the country elsewhere.

“Some win, others lose, but the most important thing is the experience and empowerment models get from such experiences. I empower models using my own resources since Zimbabwe is still to understand what modelling is,” the model said.

“Apart from modelling nothing really excites me. The good thing is, modelling is neutral and at the end of the day, issues like girl or boy child empowerment can be discussed and represented. Modelling allows one to tackle many issues and to keep up with what is happening globally.”

Aaron further noted that good public speaking skills, having clear knowledge of what one wants, being able to say no and not being forced into things one does not like are very crucial in the modelling industry.

“In most cases what I have considered as a loss from my experience was being not able to speak well. l had everything on point, but what makes a model different from another is having a voice that commands attention and speaks life to people. This will enable people to connect with you and see themselves in you. Remember its being a “role model”, she said.

Although Aaron admires strengths in different personalities including pageant organiser  Patience Lusengo, Tendai Hunda and some international models, she, however, looks up to herself in the industry.

She said while some pageants such as Miss World and Miss Universe brought benefits to models and countries they represent, other pageants were a sham.

“I will be brutally honest, too many pageants being created are literally taking advantage of girls who want nothing, but to be seen. It is bringing shame to the industry,” she said.

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