Recently, the Tyra Banks hosted program America’s Next Top Model featured a controversial photo shoot of female models in CSI-like poses. And by CSI-like poses, I mean dead. Models were “artistically” depicted stabbed, shot, strangled, electrocuted and victimized by other horrible forms of violence.
What I found most disturbing about these photos was not that they made light of tragic situations or unnecessarily depicted gruesome violence against women as art, but that in almost every shot the “crime victims” are wearing sexy or revealing clothing. In several of the shots, the women are depicted wearing only lingerie with garter belts and lying dead in a bed with satin sheets. While some photographers might consider this juxtaposition of sensuality and violence artistic, it is too often a reality for victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution. According to leading prostitution scholar Melissa Farley, 82% of women in prostitution have reported having been physically assaulted since entering prostitution. Unfortunately, the ones who have been murdered can’t report.
Tyra Banks considers herself a role model for young girls and a healthy example of female beauty and sexuality. Yet her show touts the sexualization of violence against women as art. Please, Tyra, use your media vehicle to empower young girls to grow into physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy women, not strangulation victims in lingerie.