The female body has long been a significant marker of the boundary between life and death. – Annette Burfoot and Susan Lord, editors of Killing Women
Tyra Banks, the host of America’s Next Top Model, made a disturbing episode in which female model contestants posed as “dead corpses” in a so called “glamorous” photo shoot. In this reality television show the models were professionally dressed up and positioned to reflect tragic occurrences of a deadly reality. Each shoot had a different theme in which each contestant was trying to portray that being dead is beautiful. Illustrations from the deadly photo shoot include pictures of women that have been beaten, drowned, poisoned, electrocute, stabbed, shot, strangled and thrown off of a building.
What is even more disturbing are the reactions from the judges when critiquing the photos. The judges include Tyra Banks, Miss J, Twiggy, and Nigel Barker. When critiquing the image of a model that is posed as dead after being pushed off a rooftop, Nigel states, “it’s a great shot. Death becomes you, young lady.” Furthermore, the host Tyra, appraises the young model who poses dead after being shot, saying that she is, “absolutely beautiful.” Finally, the most disturbing response is stated by Twiggy, who claims, “it is the first photograph that I’ve seen of you where you actually look like a fashion model.” Despite the producers attempt to set the scenario as ‘models murdered by models’ the illustrations and what they represent is still very alarming, twisted and dehumanizing. This horrible imagery against the true beauty of women reflects how bold the idea of violence against women is strongly being weaned into todays society.
Millions of viewers were shocked with the deadly theme of this episode including Jean Kilbourne. She is a passionate media critic who expressed her thoughts about this chilling episode. Kilbourne argues that, “ad imagery equating gruesome violence against women with beauty and glamour works to dehumanize women, making such acts in real life not only more palatable and less shocking, but even aspirational.” Young girls are becoming more equated with the idea that battery and violence against women is normal. Not only is violence something that girls will look up to but it will also enable them to be seen by the world as beautiful.