Photo of Glee's Heather Morris by Tyler Shields
What is it about bruises that fashion photographers find so sexy? The latest attempt to court controversy comes from photographer Tyler Shields and his subject, Glee actress Heather Morris. In a series of art-directed shots on his website, Morris poses with a painted-on black eye and a clothing iron, in a whimsical 1950's dress.
"Even Barbie gets bruises," writes Shields on his blog, where he's hawking 100 limited edition prints from the shoot.
More shocking than the photos' light-hearted depiction of domestic violence, is the de ja vu factor. Haven't we seen this before, like, a lot? Only a few weeks ago, we were talking about a Salon ad with a photo of a bruised model. And before that, a handful of high fashion campaigns featuring women being beaten, bruised, and impaled. Domestic violence, it seems, has become the surefire way to get your fashion spread to stand out.
"In no way were we promoting domestic violence," Shields tells E! News. "We wanted to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot and that's exactly what we did!"
In other words, no! but also yes. Isn't turning a young actress into a doll enough of a talker without also beating her up? At this point, it's not even worth a debate to add more fuel to the fire. What needs to happen is an internal snub from the fashion industry to assert that that kind of attention-baiting is unacceptable. It's become an industry-standard publicity measure, and one that wouldn't fly in any other field. Fashion thrives on controversy, but abuse against women isn't even controversial, it's just off limits.
Moral compass rule: You just shouldn't use deeply painful subjects like violence, abuse, or slavery (ahem,Vogue Italia) to sell your surface, expensive product. If that doesn't work, make-up artists, designers, photographers, and ad execs should consider this: bruises, burns, and scrapes don't make people want to buy things.
Here's a look at Tyler' Shields' bruised "Barbie" photos of Morris: