Since when did black eyes on women become art? There have been a new batch of stylized add campaigns and fashion photography lately representing women with bruises on their faces. It’s an obvious nod to domestic abuse, and it’s more than a little disturbing.
Considering how difficult it is for women to end the cycle of domestic abuse, celebrities and businesses need to stop sending out mixed messages about bruising women.
Most recently, Glee actress Heather Morris was featured in a series of pics by photographer Tyler Shields on his website. In the photo above, the TV star clearly has a black eye, and gazes happily into the camera, all while getting tied up in the electrical cord of an iron. Was Shields subconsciously trying to glamorize domestic abuse against women or just trying to elicit a reaction and attention?
According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year. There’s nothing cool or hip about that fact and I’m disappointed in Heather Morris, a role model for young women, for actively participating in photos like this. Morris claims however that the shoot was not trying to convey domestic abuse. She said to E! News:
“In no way were we promoting domestic violence. We wanted to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot and that’s exactly what we did!”
It’s unfortunate that Heather sees no connection between a “bruised-up Barbie” and domestic violence, but this is not the only example of domestic abuse being branded as art. Another recent add campaign for a Canadian hair salon named Fluid features a photo depicting a well-dressed 50s-esque woman with a black eye sitting on a couch while a man in a suit stands looming over her holding a necklace.
The tagline reads, “Look good in all you do.” The ad has subsequently gone viral and been shunned by many anti domestic violence groups and individuals alike. How could this hair salon put this ad out there knowing the underlying offense of the photo?
Fluid’s owner Sarah Cameron has rebutted the negative comments and said the ad was meant to incite discussion on the strength of women in harrowing situations. Cameron said on the company’s blog, “If you look closely she’s strong, not looking at him, not accepting the necklace.”
Regardless of the intention, it sends a bad message out there that domestic abuse is no big deal. The tagline is also disturbing. To me, it seems like it is trying to convey the message that looking good is what’s most important. Even if you’re getting beaten up.
It’s one thing when it’s a photojournalistic piece of work that is an honest portrayal of life, but both of these examples glorifies a black eye, and almost makes domestic abuse look trendy.
But domestic violence is a real problem that women of every income bracket deal with. From Rihanna’s tragic black and blue face at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown to the recent claims by Taylor Armstrong of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that her husband abused her while she was on the show, it’s clear that this problem is not going away. In Taylor’s case, she admitted that her divorce was prompted by ongoing verbal and physical abuse by her ex-husband. Soon after, her husband Russell Armstrong committed suicide.
This is a tragic example, but shows exactly how difficult the terrain of domestic abuse can be to navigate. Armstrong has been a long-time spokesperson for a domestic violence abuse group and says her involvement was prompted by the abuse she suffered as a child.
And yet, even as she publicly spoke out against domestic violence, she was suffering from it herself. As a woman who advocates against abuse, couldn’t Taylor have gotten out of the situation before it got to that point?
You’d think that she would feel an obligation to be an example for women struggling with this issue. The fact that she was unable to do so points to exactly how hard it can be to put an end to abuse.
Real stories like Taylor’s and the millions of women who are victims of domestic abuse are heartbreaking. Ads like that of Heather Morris and Fluid only add fuel to the fire, creating unneeded controversy while glamorizing and playing around with this serious issue. Ad campaigns should not be trying to fine the sexy side of physical abuse. And celebrities and businesses who take part in photos like this should think twice about the repercussions and the message they are sending out to the public. Hopefully if enough people speak out about it, they will.