Fluid hair salon released this ad to let people know that it is donating all clipped hair to the oil recovery efforts in the Gulf:

The ad is a perfect example of the way in which entirely-unrelated messages get inexplicably translated into half-naked women looking uncomfortable.  Why not advertise donations to oil recovery with clean beaches, or dirty beaches, or oil booms, or rinsed off birds, or smiling shrimpers, or actual hair-based oil spill mats?  Why in heaven’s name slather a perfectly clean woman in goop that looks like oil and make her crawl in a marsh?

Because half-naked women who are dirty, disgusting, and uncomfortable are high-fashion.  Because we love to see women on their knees in the mud.  To a great extent, elite fashion imagery involves putting women in gross situations and pretending that it’s cool.  These images assault their bodies and their dignity.  So how else would an elite salon advertise its good-doing?  Female punishment is the language of fashion. Fluid just speaks it fluently.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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