I’m sure that readers are somewhat surprised to see an ad featuring a woman with a black eye, hovered over by a husband/boyfriend unrepentantly holding out a necklace as a peace-offering? penance? in a blog written by someone who has dedicated many personal and professional energies to fighting domestic violence in all its forms.
For those of you out there who missed the furor that erupted over this ad, it was put out by the Fluid Hair Salon of Edmonton Alberta as part of an ad series, Look Good In All You Do.
There is much to be said about this.
One of the more disturbing elements to my mind is that the slogan “Look Good in All You Do” has as much to do with the battering partner as it does with the battered woman. Seems to me that part of the implicit message is that it doesn’t matter what kind of malicious behaviour you engage in, such as giving your wife a shiner, the important thing is to look good in your own eyes and the eyes of the world. Offer her a nice bauble; your image, if at all tainted by your violence and abuse, will be restored.
As for the woman, the notion that what matters for a woman who has just been delivered a severe punch to her eye, is that her hair and attire look good, leads me to believe that as a society we have made very little progress over the past decades as to how we perceive women. Further, ads such as these provide further evidence that we actually allow ourselves to belittle phenomena – such as domestic violence – which continue to plague women.
Why is it, that in the year 2011 anyone thinks that it is acceptable to post an ad which features a women who looks downtrodden and bruised, but well-dressed and coiffed?
Worse, how does anyone think that it is not reprehensible to seat her beneath a man who coldly and contemptuously holds out a piece of jewellery, to what end? Win her silence? Make her further compliant? Dependent?
One of the sadder aspects of this story has been the response of the hair salon’s owners on their blog. A kind of adolescent, What is your problem? articulated with a whine. It’s disturbing, but instructive, to take a look at their blog. Ultimately, they did (sort of) buckle under the social approbation directed their way. They didn’t express contrition about the ad, but did make an donation to a local women’s shelter.
The response of the owners, the ability of the men and women involved (models, photographers, graphic artists) to fail to take offense at the messages of the ad, is actually flabbergasting. Rather than simply make a financial donation to the local women’s shelter, I suggest those involved actually make a trip to the shelter, get to know the women who have taken refuge there. Perhaps that will be the trigger that evokes some true soul-searching.