Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Does new oil-spill fashion shoot ‘glamorize’ tragedy?

A new fashion spread in Vogue Italia features a female model posing seductively on an oil-slicked coastline.

Commentators wonder if the photos – clearly meant to evoke the Gulf Spill – “glamorize” environmental catastrophe.

“As beautiful and provocative as they are, we can’t help but feel uneasy” reads an entry on fashion website Refinery 29. “Creating beauty and glamour out of tragedy seems quite fucked up to us.”

The images, shot by renowned fashion photographer Stephen Meisel, are clearly provocative. (Click here to see them).

In one, model Kristen McMenamy reclines in an outfit apparently made from black feathers. Her face shows mock anguish as waves crash against the shoreline. Dark, shiny oil oozes onto the page from the top-left corner.

In another, McMenamy spews clear liquid from her mouth, her hair tangled on black rocks.

British Petroleum finally sealed its ruptured oil well last week, which has oozed an estimated 207 million gallons since April. Images of devastated wildlife and oil-slicked beaches are now world-famous. A final relief well, which would seal the leak for good, could be finished soon.

The Vogue Italia website characterizes model McMenamy as a “survivor” – interpreting images of “environmental drama” in the Gulf of Mexico.

“She keeps her skin golden thanks to Self Tan Face Bronzing Gel Tint (to wear alone or with foundation): it takes care of the skin, while giving it a hint of color,” reads the website.

Refinery 29 invites readers to weigh in on the shoot. But the website doesn’t sound too impressed.

“Glamorizing this recent ecological and social disaster for the sake of ‘fashion,’” it reads, “reduces the tragic event to nothing more than attention-grabbing newsstand fodder.”

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus