Kate Upton felt a huge "sense of relief" after detailing her alleged sexual misconduct at the hands of Guess co-founder Paul Marciano after burying the nightmare for years.
The model, who was once the face of Marciano's brand, first spoke out about the fashion mogul on Instagram last month (Jan18), accusing him of "using his power in the industry to sexually and emotionally harass" women - claims he has vehemently denied.
She has since expanded on her story in a piece for TIME magazine, published on Wednesday (07Feb18), in which she accused the designer of groping the then-18-year-old's breasts during a 2010 meeting and forcibly kissing her face and neck.
Upton went on to allege Marciano had forced her off a photoshoot in May, 2011, when he supposedly said, "Get that fat pig off my set."
The model admits opening up about her painful past for the TIME article was therapeutic, even though she was initially hesitant to go public with her experience of sexual harassment, despite the ongoing support for the #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns to stamp out inappropriate behaviour.
"As soon as I did my article with TIME, I felt a sense of relief, because it's a new climate," she told breakfast show Good Morning America on Friday (09Feb18). "Women are coming together and you're able to have that platform and share your story and create real change for other women and for this industry for the better."
Kate was inspired to speak up after joining a workout session with modelling newcomers as they prepared for their first New York Fashion Week shows.
"I was going back and forth about sharing this story, because it's always easier to leave things in the past," she said. "But... I remember being in that place (as an excited new model), whenever I got the meeting to go meet with Paul Marciano, and how different my view of the industry after that meeting was, and I wanted to prevent that from happening to these other girls who are just starting out."
The alleged incident made Upton question the way she carried herself in public, and it wasn't until she learned to "empower" herself again that she realised none of it was her fault.
"It's hard to admit that that happened," she reflected on why it took her so long to come forward. "It was a completely different world when it happened. I was 18 years old... everyone around me was pushing me not to tell my story, (saying), 'It's better to keep things in the dark...' Everyone is incentivised by me getting on set: the agents, everybody gets paid if I show up on set, so you're constantly pushed to show up on set, no matter what happens..."
Marciano has continued to refute Upton's allegations, and has voiced his support for an internal investigation at Guess - something Kate is also in favour of.
She claims no one from the label has reached out to her about her story to date, but she would be wiling to speak to officials "if it bettered their investigation".