Jeffery Epstein was arrested this past Saturday on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He is currently being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center and faces up to 45 years in prison as well as the forfeiture of his assets, including a massive mansion on the Upper East Side.
Epstein is accused of abusing an unknown number of girls and women between 2002-2005, with a 2018 investigation by the Miami Herald placing the number in the hundreds. Accusations range from victims being groped to “loaned” for sexual purposes to the financier’s A-list inner circle. Girls were paid in cash following sessions and Epstein was aware that many were underage, even telling one recruiter “the younger the better” and dismissing a 23-year-old as too old, according to the police report.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges in court on Monday afternoon.
This is not the first time Epstein has faced criminal charges for his sexual exploitation of minors. In 2007, Epstein fought similar accusations before the then-U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida and now-Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. Hiring a gang of lawyers and investigators, Epstein’s representatives launched vicious character attacks on the victims who stepped forward and used intense intimidation tactics to pressure the court into an easy sentence with Acosta’s help.
Epstein was ultimately let off on the easy charge of soliciting a minor, rather than the much more severe charge of sex trafficking, according to the Daily Beast. His punishments were to register as a sex offender, privately pay off certain victims, and spend 18 months in county jail, of which he ultimately only served 13 and could leave six days per week for “work release.”
As Secretary of Labor, Acosta is responsible for legislation regarding human trafficking and Epstein’s arrest has sparked demand for him to step down from the position.
Years after Epstein’s crimes were initially reported and prosecuted, his victims finally have a real shot at seeing their abuser locked behind bars. Speaking out before #Metoo, those who suffered at Epstein’s hands were dismissed, harassed, and kept from justice by a court run by Acosta. Now, with men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby sitting in prison, these women might speak out and actually be heard. As the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York said, “While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, the victims – then children and now young women – are no less entitled to their day in court.”
With the grand opening of its “women’s floor,” Nike’s Oxford Street, London location unveiled parasport and plus-size mannequins on June 5. These additions come as part of a growing string of initiatives promoting diversity and inclusivity launched by the brand. These include ad campaigns targeted at female athletes and hiring of former NFL-player and racial justice advocate Colin Kaepernick as the company’s face.
Nike joins stores such as Nordstrom and Old Navy in featuring mannequins of “real-life” proportions. A “normal” mannequin, according to The Guardian, towers at 6 feet tall with a 24-inch waist—maybe just a tad different from the average U.S. woman, who is 5’ 4” with a waist of nearly 39-inches.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders concluded that the “body size of mannequins used to advertise female fashion is unrealistic and would be considered medically unhealthy in humans.” The survey of national retail chains in two British cities revealed “100% of female mannequins represented an underweight body size.”
Despite these statistics, the inclusion of mannequins that aren’t rail thin at Nike has elicited significant support but also sparked predictable, ghoulish backlash. Yet regardless of what people are saying, the way women are spending their money is sending a clear message.
According to Refinery 29, a Kent University study has shown that women may actually be more inclined to purchase clothing if it is presented on a body that resembles their own.
American Eagle’s lingerie offshoot Aerie is a strong example of a place where this might be happening. Following a 2014 decision to stop retouching photos and launch #Aeriereal, a campaign wholly focused on promoting body-positivity, the brand has built a reputation for promoting female empowerment and inclusivity. In 2018, according to Business Insider, Aerie reported “a record-high 38% increase in same-store sales for the first quarter of 2018.” On the other hand, competing lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, notorious for its invariably thin, toned, and airbrushed “angels,” racked in “a more modest 1% increase in same-store sales growth for the first quarter of 2018, following negative growth in the previous quarter.”
There are plenty of reasons that these companies may have gone on opposite trajectories, but women wanting to buy clothes advertised on actual women seems likely to have played some role in the trend.
So despite whatever “discourse” this mannequin is inspiring, what buyers actually want is clear. And when consumers use their wallets to speak, corporations tend to ultimately hear them loud and clear.
Top photo: By Department of Justice - Released federal files, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Noa Wollstein is an editorial intern at BUST. She is currently a student at Princeton University working towards a B.A. in English, Film, and Journalism.