Victim of Beauty: Controversial Photos for Your Viewing Disgust

by Emilie Branch



The relationship between women and fashion is complicated, or at the very least, layered. We all need to buy clothes. That one’s obvious, or like the first layer. The second level of this cake (I’ve made it a cake) is the clothes that we buy reflect how we are judged. Teen girls all over the internet are counseling each on how to dress like a certain persona (i.e. Wear hemp bracelets if you want to be a surfer). At the top of our cake (and maybe the icing that covers the whole thing) is the fashion industry, which has always, since at least the Victorian era, told us what our shape should look like. The fashion industry (very often reflected in glamour magazines) tells us we should be smaller, often negates that by telling us to love who we are, and then reinforces the original message by showing images of airbrushed teens as a model of how we should look. It isn’t very realistic and it’s a subtle way of telling us to be weak or submissive, both through size and poses affected. So, when I saw these photos shot by Vasil Germanov for Bulgarian Magazine 12, I was a bit taken aback.

The models’ are made up with bruises and elaborate cuts. They stare directly into the camera, but in spite of their straight-forward gaze, there’s a subdued quality about them. They look hurt. The first thought I had when looking at these images was of domestic violence. The photos are drawing criticism because they seem to glorify a terrible thing—this is the argument made by Cheryl Wischhover of Fashionista. If that is the case, then fashion, which appeals to women but is largely dictated by men, has reached a new, grossly overt level of “weak is beautiful.” The concept risks influencing girls into thinking a violent relationship is acceptable or even glamorous—especially in our Rihanna/Chris Brown reconciliation duet and GOP Violence Against Women Act, world.

The shoot is called, “Victim of Beauty.” A more forgiving interpretation of the editorial is that the women (all women) are victims of the beauty industry. Maybe the photographer is trying to show us that all the fuss over looking beautiful is really just a façade…That’s a bit of a stretch though, isn’t it? Otherwise, in a classic art for art’s sake interpretation, maybe ol’ Vasil from Bulgaria thought this was a cool idea, and wanted to show that women who are in accidents or victims of domestic violence are beautiful too. Maybe he just wanted us all to think about it for a minute, which is better than the typical image of a girl in the tulips. It’s a bit overtly controversial, but I must admit that he got my attention. 

(Images Courtesy of: 12 Magazine)



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