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, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Eneya — July 5, 2010
It looks very much like blood.
One can argue I don't understand art but this is just tasteless and unnecessary.
It's not unusual to use naked women as a lazy way to present something, but... still.
Mike — July 5, 2010
It is important to remember that fluid is in the fashion/beauty business. Therefore, it isn't surprising they picked to make an ad in the high fashion style. I mean, they could use a picture of a hair mat, but which really meshes better with the image they wish to associate with their business?
Hair mats just aren't that high fashion (unless you covered someone in them...but I think that would still get criticism from sociological images).
Above is a picture of a hair mat for anyone who hasn't seen one.
Also, I am not sure if I understand the overall criticism of the picture. The model is not freakishly contorted; instead she is crouching while cutting her hair. The oil all over her seems to be referencing all the animals and objects covered in oil down at the spill site while the marsh resembles the many marshes impacted by the disaster. It seems to be just another advertisement to me. It doesn't make me want to go cut my hair (because I probably would have not noticed the scissors if I didn't know it was a hair ad), but it doesn't disgust me.
Christine deNeveu — July 5, 2010
If we saw a woman looking like this on a beach we would haul her off to the mental hospital for a rest, a cleanup, and some strong medications. When we see it as "high fashion" it is supposed to engender some sexualized response to the degradation and violence, I guess? Maybe the salon ought be put in a straightjacket. Revolting and disgusting. Yeah, the BP spill degraded us all in so many ways, why transfer all that once again to the bodies of women?
Dr Kate — July 5, 2010
Not just half naked women - emaciated and starved half naked women. The effect is concentration camp chic.
Dr Kate — July 5, 2010
Also, if she really is smeared with oil-spill BP oil, that's an OSHA violation.
rkt — July 5, 2010
it looks like chocolate syrup to me! :)
but seriously, i'm all for hair donations going to the gulf... but this image? isn't selling it for me.
Alexicute — July 5, 2010
hmmmm......I suggest a compromise; shoulda been a glamourous model with a fabulous short hair cut, lovingly washing a sea bird or a turtle or something in a salon hair washing bowl. They could put tag line like " come in for a sexy short cut and help out in the gulf" or a catchier variation thereof. Still fashion, but less exploitive and PETA-esque. Why do we have to equate women with animals and crazy people?
Grafton — July 5, 2010
Weird. Why did they bother?
The organization that accepts the hair donations sells/provides this poster.
Becky — July 5, 2010
rkt - It looks like chocolate syrup to me, too. lol I didn't even notice the scissors until the first few posters pointed them out. I agreed with this post until studying the text and image with comments. I love that she is cutting her own hair for the oil spill. I've seen more non-sequitor fashion imagery in Vogue. She's not dressed as a doll with random objects, contorted in gymnastic pose; I don't find this image too terribly offensive.
June — July 5, 2010
I want to see a naked man goop that looks like oil and make her crawl in a marsh.
May — July 6, 2010
Have you seen this?
The video also features a thin white woman being covered in oil in a PSA about the oil leak. I thought immediately about having read this post earlier...
Bee — July 15, 2010
This woman is an actor. Fashion is to show beauty. Most women and men agree that the female body is the most aesthetically pleasing. This women is not displaying a vulgar or objectifying pose. She is also reasonable clothed. That is a retro conservative bathing suit. I see more see more skin walking down the street. You are insulting this woman's intelligience by assuming that she is not educated enough to make her own decisions about what is "demoralizing" or "degrading". We are sexual beings, and if sexuality's what it takes to save this planet from destruction; than why does it matter?? What really matters is cleaning up our Earth. Neither this woman, nor the fashion industry are responsible for the people's view of women. This is a free country if people want to buy a magazine full of skinny, tall, dirty females than so be it. Just STOP COMPLAINING. Maybe the moajority enjoys these ads.
bill — July 16, 2010
these ads, no matter how you perceive women being portrayed, are made to draw attention to the worst man made disaster this country has even seen. this disaster could have been prevented, but big business runs our government, legally minimizing their liabilities while intentionally taking outrageous risks. your pathetic sniveling about how women are viewed in these ads shows your selfishly oblivious logic, your inability to intelligently comprehend the magnitude of this disaster, and makes me ill to think you have the potential to reproduce...
Ania — September 7, 2010
I think this is an awesome ad. I think her attempt to contribute to the repair of the Oil Spill is definitely something she should be credited for. Get over the image. The fact these feminists are trying to extrapolate her work really makes me laugh because shes probably more successful then anyone that's complaining about her.
Ashlee — September 7, 2010
What the hell. This ad is totally fine and it's advertising something they are doing for a good cause. Get serious.
Lisa — October 27, 2010
That is such a great shot. The photographer must be fantastic. I don't see how a woman getting paid to have a beautiful picture taken of herself that then is being used to promote something... uh, good... is even worthy of discussion. She looks tough. I'd love to have a picture taken of me like this. I'm a single mother and a grad student. There is no doubt that gender inequality still exists. Just not in this photograph.
Go cast judgement on someone else. Your discussion about the exploitation of women in this context is purely that, exploitation. Fluff without substance. So many other things to get angry about in the world.
Sarah Cameron — February 10, 2011
I think for the most part the focus needs to be on the fact that this is an ad for the recycling of hair. And to not be forgotten that this is an ad.
It's most definitely easy to accuse a tall naturally slender girl of being to thin, she is in all actuality more than healthy and would be offended. It's very easy to have an uneducated opinion on the matter. To pass judgement or assumption. There is a dark humor to some or most ads. It is exactly that, a beautiful picture. People need to lighten up.
We invite your opinions however about our others. http://fluidhair.ca
Sarah Cameron — February 10, 2011
Specifically you will hate these... http://fluidhair.ca/?page_id=220
Right now in EdSex: Why you shouldn’t use domestic violence to sell haircuts « sexyedmonton — August 29, 2011
[...] other pics in the series aren’t much better; I think the Society Pages summed it up best with their commentary on the oil-smeared woman last year: “ Female punishment is the language of fashion. Fluid [...]
On Not Giving “Fashion” a Pass (Trigger Warning) | Leaders Vision — September 12, 2011
[...] ad for a hair salon called Fluid. The salon, which has a history of using “shocking” ads (like this one after the Gulf oil spill), is attracting criticism for an ad featuring a woman being offered jewelry by a man; she appears [...]