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Vice Magazine was slammed by critics on Tuesday for a controversial fashion photo spread that featured models re-enacting famous women authors’ suicides. The editors for the online magazine, which is known for its provocative coverage, later pulled the images and apologized.
The photos showed models posing as Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Elise Cowen, Iris Chang, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sanmao re-enacting how the authors committed suicide. According to The Independent, the model impersonating Cowen was shown lying on pavement, as if she had just fallen out of a window, as Cowen had died in real life. Sanmao was a Taiwanese writer who had hanged herself with stockings.
Each image had the name of the author, dates, cause of death and - what really angered some - the credit for who designed what each model wore.
The spread was supposed to be part of the magazine’s fiction issue, another point that critics slammed. “These weren’t fictional characters; these were real women, who lived and struggled and died, and to treat their lowest moments as fodder for a silly fashion spread is shameful and sad,” former model Jenna Sauers wrote on Jezebel.
After the outrage, Vice decided to pull the images, reports ABC News.
“The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art-editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading,” the magazine’s editors stated. “ ’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.”
Vice has recently gained more widespread attention through its HBO program, which was renewed for a second season.