June 18, 2013

suicide is not a fashion statement

One of the topics that I saw a lot of today was Vice Magazine's controversial new issue! The "Women in Fiction" issue isn't the controversy itself, but rather the fashion spread - a stark comparison to the empowering short stories, interviews and features about remarkable women in fiction. The fashion spread, styled by Annette Lamothe-Ramos and photographed by Annabel Mehran, features models portraying famous female writers (okay..), who have killed themselves (wait, what?!). At. the. time. of. their. death.

Yes, take your jaw off the floor. Vice decided to showcase the suicides of these illustrious women, and quite visually in some cases. The worst thing, in my opinion, was the fact that they tried to turn it into a fashion feature, citing the clothes worn among the deceased's name, dates of birth and death, and cause of death. Because I want to buy the pair of stockings that they use to showcase Taiwanese author Sanmao's death.

Jenna Sauers, former fashion model herself writes, "It's almost breathtakingly tasteless. Suicide is not a fashion statement." A phrase that has circled the interwebs and fashion blogs alike all throughout the day. The spread features late authors and writers such as Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sanmao, Elise Cowen, Sylvia Plath and historian Iris Chang.

Below are the pictures. I apologize for insulting anyone by posting these photos.
Charlotte Perkins-Gilman 
Dorothy Parker
Elise Cowen
Iris Chang
Sylvia Plath 
Virginia Woolf

What many are criticizing the most is Vice's decision to portray historian Iris Chang, who only died in 2004 and leaves behind a now-11 year old son. To see such a visual portrayal of his mother's death, less than ten years later must affect him and other family members in many ways.

Vice soon after removed the post from their website, replacing it with a statement

“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.

This isn't the first case of fashion editorials going too far, but hopefully it will be the last. Fashion excuses many things in life, but it in no way promotes suicide or death, and shouldn't ever. I'll say it again: SUICIDE IS NOT A FASHION STATEMENT. Not now, not ever.

What are your opinions on the photos? Do you think they crossed the line with this feature? 


  1. The media has a responsibility to take care what they put out into the world. They can change the world for the better by holding a mirror to it at a new angle or they can shatter that mirror into a thousand splinters in an attempt to be edgy and hurt it instead :|
    Artistically, the photos were gorgeous, but skillful rendering means nothing without taste, and the shoot was tactless. I'm totally on board with what you're saying!

  2. 100% agree! The media has such an important role where their influence can be the make it or break it for some things. Yet they choose to display topics like suicide in such a way, familiarizing suicide and in a way, allowing it. Topics like suicide, eating disorders and other health issues should never be seen as being promoted by such a powerful source. I'm disappointed with Vice for this reason. I agree that the photos we'd artistically phenomenal, with statement shots that say something, but focusing on the suicide aspect of it completely turned me off! Thanks for your comment and your support :)

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  4. This is extremely tasteless. They really shouldve thought this through. There are many other ways to remember these women. I really love some of these authors, and Id rather not remember the fact that they cut their lives short. Not cool, Vice.

  5. Agreed! Though the photos were beautiful, the idea behind them were 100% tasteless and horrific.

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  7. Quite touching post...Thank you for sharing this.
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