The original ad featured above was one of numerous photos taken in June 2012 for 12 Magazine’s, “Victims of Beauty” photo series. The series portrays several female models with extensive make up done on their neck or faces to give the illusion that they have been bruised, cut, and beaten. This photo, along with the others, is graphic and sparked considerable controversy when it was first debuted. The editors of 12 Magazine had not explicitly explained the meaning behind this photo series, and only made claims that “Victim of Beauty” was intended to be “artistic”. As well, the magazine defended their campaign in response to the backlash it received. In an email sent to the New York Daily News back in 2012, editor-in-chief, Huben Hubenov, stated “A lot of people read ‘domestic violence’ in those pictures, but it is their mind who came up with that explanation of the shoot, not ours.” Clearly 12 Magazine sees no problem with their campaign.
However, it is apparent that the ad is controversial and it is not surprising that the campaign had received much backlash. The intention is meant to be artistic; although, its execution is problematic in that its “artistry” fails to consider the triggering affects the ad may pose on actual victims of domestic abuse. The photo glamourizes violence without any regards to how it may impact women in general, as well as other individuals who have suffered from a violence of any kind. Further, the ad lacks consideration towards ethnic minorities and marginalized groups (e.g. Aboriginal and Indigenous women) who are at increased risk of experiencing domestic violence. By only showcasing a white, beautiful, and most likely middle-class woman in this ad, the photo aligns itself with hegemonic feminism and neglects the importance of intersectionality. While the intent is not malicious, the ad overall conveys a message glamourizing domestic violence and violence against women.
In my jammed version of the ad, I attempted to emphasize the controversial meaning that I found to be most problematic with the original work. As a result, I implemented two changes in order to invoke the absurd social message the ad contains.
First, removed the text below, “Victim of Beauty” and added the statement, “Glamourizing Domestic Violence”. My intent with this statement was to be direct and blunt in order to emphasize the underlying meaning of the ad. The photo invokes a very problematic social message concerning domestic violence, in combination with objectifying women to gain exposure for their fashion magazine. Together, this exploits real women of domestic abuse as it highlights aspects of beauty and fashion in a subject matter that is serious and should never be considered as “artistic”. To cut through the “artistry” and objectification of the ad, I added “Glamourizing Domestic Violence”. As well, I felt this statement would make an impactful social message that many advertisements and much of social media today tends to neglect and ignore. By making an explicit and straightforward statement, I am essentially calling out the ad on its absurd social message.
Next, I removed the word “Beauty” that was originally placed above, and replaced it with the Ending Violence in BC website. I added this to bring awareness to organizations that deal with victims of domestic violence and also provide access to various services and programs. In particular, endingviolence.org serves multicultural outreach programs that work to help women and children from marginalized groups. These women and children are provided with the appropriate resources to ensure that they receive services that they need, such as: counselling, referral to other community services, and assistance with child protection services. By presenting the name of their website on the add, this highlights the seriousness of domestic abuse and its realities. Further, this brings attention to the lack of consideration towards ethnic minorities that the original ad presents.