Objectification Or Art?

Tavi just wrote a blog post about Terry Richardson. If you’re unfamiliar with either, I’ll describe them quickly. Tavi is a young (I think she might be 13 or 14 now) fashion blogger. She attends runway shows, serves as somewhat of a muse for certain designers, has been featured in Vogue, etc. Unfortunately, she’s also often heavily criticized and hated on. This is because people are assholes. Now, I don’t particularly like her style (then again, I know nothing about fashion and no doubt looked about a million times worse in my teens) but I’d never say a bad thing about her. I like this kid. She’s half my age and writes twice as good as I do, she’s doing her own thing and she’s getting to meet her idols. She rules.

I feel I shouldn’t even have to explain who Terry Richardson is. If you don’t know him, you most likely know his work. He’s a very famous photographer who’s worked for oh, I don’t know, just about every magazine ever. Physically, he’s most recognizable for his big ass glasses, great band t-shirts, plaid shirts and thumbs-up pose. I personally think he’s extremely talented despite the fact that outside of his editorials, his work has a very consistent (if not predictable) aesthetic. Anyway, this post isn’t about whether he’s talented or not.

A few months ago a model accused Richardson of sexually exploiting the young girls who pose for him. Other models have corroborated this claim. A stylist allegedly quit after becoming fed up of watching Richardson abuse two teenage Eastern European models who didn’t speak English. In an interview with The Guardian, Richardson was quoted as saying, “I don’t think I’m a sex addict, but I do have issues. […] I was a shy kid, and now I’m this powerful guy with his boner, dominating all these girls.” Excuse me; ‘dominating’? What a douchebag. Of course, many big-name industry people immediately defended the highly influential photographer, saying that it’s the models’ own fault for sucking Uncle Terry’s dick. They weren’t forced to – they simply chose to.

This is some of what young Tavi had to say about the situation:

“The girl should never be put in the position in which she has to refuse. I mean, sure, she could just not say yes, but there’s another person to blame, and that would be the person who could just not pressure a girl into performing those kinds of acts.”

“And, let’s clarify: you don’t love women just because you have sex with them and like taking pictures of their ladyparts.”

“I can already see the comments reading, ‘You feminists are so uptight! Let a stranger manipulate you into doing weird things to him for once in your life, gosh!'”

My goodness. I’m not sure if I want this girl to be my best friend or my daughter or what. Could she be any more awesome? You can read the rest of her post here.

I included some [COMPLETELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK!] questionable photographs Richardson has either taken or gotten someone else to take after the cut. I guess you can form your own opinion about his work. Objectification? Art? Something for him to jerk off to on his days off?

Ew.

-Melissa

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Objectification Or Art?

  1. I have some real problems with Terry and essentially agree with everything you and Tavi (and everyone else) has said, but one thing I don’t understand is why the model agencies aren’t being given any shit for this. Models don’t just stroll into Terry’s studio at random and got shot; when Purple or Vice or whoever book Terry to do a shoot, models don’t just appear out of nowhere. They’re booked in by an outside agency who manage their time and jobs for them.

    Model agencies shouldn’t get anyone on their books who’s under 18 anyway, that needs to be changed by law. For now though, if they do have girls under 18 working the very least they should be doing is checking which photographer will be shooting them and what the nature of the shoot is before they send them off. Ideally they should be sending a chaperone, supervisor or parent if anyone is under 18. A lot of these young girls are just excited to have a job and get a glossy magazine feature in their portfolio so they inevitably end up being screwed over.

    Of course Terry is the one to blame, but I do wish people would consider the agencies in all this because all they care about is getting their fee.

    • badbangs

      well said. i agree that there should be chaperones. you know, it’s kind of a catch 22 because obviously all these models want to be successful and terry richardson shoots are ideal but they seem to sometimes come with all this added pressure and creepiness. he’s actually said he tries to create as relaxed an atmosphere as possible by taking his clothes off. he’s probably got an entourage backing him up, too. the girls are put in an awkward position. i’m sure a lot of them simply don’t have the guts to say no.

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