Here's an item to make even the most hardened feminist weep in her latte: Last week's episode of America's Next Top Model featured a photoshoot in which the perennially waifish contestants were made up and posed to look like blood-spattered and mangled corpses. The causes of the graphic-but-always-photogenic deaths ranged from stabbing to strangulation to shooting to semi-decapitation. No possible cluster of synonyms for "repulsive" could do these pics justice, so peruse them here at your leisure. [ETP Warning: The following may cause revulsion, indignation and excessive screaming at the computer screen. We advise readers to refrain from viewing in the office or while drinking hot liquids.]
Alert women's issues sites like Feministing and Broadsheet were on the case right away, excoriating the show and expressing disgust at the salt-in-gushing-wound responses of the judges, which included lines like, "What's great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death;" "I think you look absolutely wonderful;" and "Death becomes you, young lady." As Broadsheet noted, the decision to feature "dead" models is made even worse (if such a thing is possible) by the fashion industry's recent eating disorders controversy, in which several models died from anorexia. Classy move, guys! Jennifer Pozner over at Women In Media & News offered this insight about the show (which she described as "a series that traffics in bottom-feeder humiliation, objectification and degradation of women in the name of fashion, fun and beauty for the deep profit of integrated marketers"):
For decades, media critics such as pioneering advertising theorist Jean Kilbourne have argued that ad imagery equating gruesome violence against women with beauty and glamour works to dehumanize women, making such acts in real life not only more palatable and less shocking, but even aspirational. ANTM's pretty-as-a-picture crime-scene challenge epitomized the worst of an insidious industry trend that, ahem, just won't die.
Meanwhile, BuddyTV reports that women's rights advocates are "irate" over the episode (slight understatement perhaps?), with New York City NOW president Sonia Ossorio condemning the shoot in the Daily News. Starting last week, female bloggers were already mobilizing, encouraging readers to contact sponsors of the show and providing e-mail addresses (like this one and these...not that we're hinting or anything) for letter-writing campaigns. As for the CW network and ANTM supermodel host Tyra Banks? Both declined to comment.