On Dehumanizing Models

(Trigger warning as we’re going to mention some violence and sexual assault things in this entry, sorry!)


One thing I am very careful about is how our models are portrayed in our shoots. With the planning of Halloween shoots underway I am thinking of what we create and what we put out into the world.

The concepts we utilize need to be empowering, relatable, unique, and charming. I recently saw this “fashion” shoot from an Indian clothing label which used an implied rape or at least unwanted physical sexual advances happening on a bus and it made me feel sick as hell (since there was a woman who was gang raped on a bus in India not so long ago and died) (and yes the person who created that shoot says it’s meant to “shed light” on the atrocity and it’s good that we’re using it to have a discussion on the topic I suppose- but it still bothered me). That shoot got me thinking about our concepts and how important it is to me to be aware of the messages our work conveys. With alternative and Gothic shoots you often end up exploring horror themes, and I like fake blood and bandages as much as anyone, but there is a line between quirky guro and dehumanized victim that I try to be very conscious of.

A Gloomth Girl isn’t a victim. She isn’t weak, she isn’t dependent on others to validate her supreme coolness and hotness, she isn’t going to stomach being shown dismembered or brutalized in a shoot. As a woman artist (and a feminist) I really don’t feel comfortable creating work that reinforces the status quo of oppression and violence women across the planet experience every day (statistics available for Canada here).



Sure, it’s fun to bust out the fake blood and gore for shoots. To create unsettling horror themed images is a mainstay of alternative photography and loads of fun! However I see so many portfolio images from photographers portraying women who are rendered victims of ghastly violence in the name of “art”, made faceless corpses splattered with viscera- yes there’s art to making fake gore- but at what point do you sit back and look at that stuff and think about what this kind of work says? Why are so many photographers so interested in creating horribly maimed unidentified hot girls? When the reality is that so many women experience that sort of violence every day in *real* life. I don’t think a lot of that work is created with the intention of “raising awareness”, frankly. And it just makes me uncomfortable.

I personally don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want my label to be a part of that. There’s a way to create scary images without dehumanizing the participants, we don’t have to settle for images of faceless ruined women.

(These are my OPINIONS. I am not stating these are facts, this is just how I feel and how I plan to conduct myself when working on our shoots/films. Not intended to alienate or insult anyone. I am also not saying men experience violence, they do, but the culture of violence towards women is pervasive in media and we don’t work with a lot of boy models right now in our shoots.)


3 thoughts on “On Dehumanizing Models

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Sometimes uncomfortable topics still need to be addressed head-on and with respect. I think you nailed it.

    1. I’m so glad it resonated with you! 🙂

      I did a lot of waffling on posting this rant, honestly. I never want our blog to be overpowered by my politics but sometimes it’s just really important to address how screwed up some things are.

  2. (*Applauds*)
    Taeden, I really appreciate you addressing this (and thanks for the trigger warning, too). Everything that we see and experience affects us and contributes to our view of the world; and so everyone, artisans included, needs to be aware of what messages their work sends, and to think about whether or not they’re O.K. with sending those messages out where anyone can see them and be affected by them.
    Thank you so much for acting in accordance with your conscience. Even if the vast majority of people who are exposed to your work never even think about what you’ve said here, the very fact that you’ve made a stand and decided on your principles is important and wonderful.

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