Edmonton Salon Ads Cross a Major Line

by | August 29, 2011
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Pop Culture

Even with the scores of sexist advertising out there, I was seriously disturbed to come across a series of ads using depictions of domestic violence to promote an Edmonton salon.

From the Edmonton Sun:

Fluid Salon, located near Whyte Avenue, launched the ad series “Look good in all you do” more than one year ago.

But on Monday, the series took a public lashing from local social media users after a New York advertising copywriter featured one of the ads – depicting apparent domestic violence – in a blog.

“I was appalled,” Kasia Gawlak said in an interview. She’s a blogger who saw the ad Monday morning. “It’s like saying ‘at least you have good looking hair when your boyfriend abuses you.’ The women who have been abused with real pain, heartbreak and suffering – it’s not something that should be trivialized to sell a hair salon.”

It’s disgusting, to say the least, to imply that a woman who was being beaten by her male partner would feel better knowing at least her hair looked good.

Unfortunately, it’s not even just the one ad. Another in the series of the “Look good in all you do” shows a woman wearing tights and a bra while smoking a cigarette sitting on a dirty mattress in an alley (implying she’s a prostitute). If you look closely, it gets even worse. On their Facebook page, someone pointed out another ad showing a woman’s being dragged from a hearse by her legs features the “corpse” wearing the same shoes as the woman in the alley ad. Yes, That Jill also found a picture of them doing the woman model’s makeup for the first ad, with the caption: “hottest battered woman I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.”

In their other campaigns there’s a racist ad for Brazilian blow-outs, featuring white women in pseudo-tribal makeup, and another ad showing a woman coated with oil and wearing feathers to promote a portion of hair cut proceeds going to oil spill relief. The women-as-animals in distress is a frequent tactic of other sexist ad offender PETA.

Fluid Hair owner Sarah Cameron, yet again proving that women can be their own gender’s worst enemies, says she sees no problem with the ads: “It might strike a chord, but as the way our society and community is getting, we keep tailoring everything because everyone is getting so sensitive…Anyone who has a connection or a story behind anything can be upset or have an opinion. We are not trying to attack anyone,” Cameron told the Sun.

Tell Cameron & Fluid that trivializing violence against women isn’t acceptable under any circumstances. You can post on the image gallery on Fluid’s Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150395289750206.610405.713520205&type=1 or use the contact form on their site here: http://fluidhair.ca/?page_id=39. You can also complain to Advertising Standards Canada here.



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  • Schnee

    “It might strike a chord, but as the way our society and community is getting, we keep tailoring everything because everyone is getting so sensitive…Anyone who has a connection or a story behind anything can be upset or have an opinion. We are not trying to attack anyone,” Cameron told the Sun.

    Seriously Ms. Cameron? Can she not see the difference between something huge like violence against women /sexism in general, and something minor like, say, having a bad hair cut? It’s like referring to a reaction to sexism as ‘a pet peeve’, rather than a completely legitimate social and human rights question.

    Not trying to attack anyone? Oh yes you are luv. For more years than I can remember, anyone raising women’s issues has been closed down with the same old, ‘oh, you’re over-sensitive, don’t you have a sense of humour?’
    Well, oddly, when it comes to violence, no.

  • Maya

    Thanks for covering this story! We can’t let this stand. Sexist violence against women is an epidemic and we need to speak out.

  • Kent

    What saddens me is that the ad, as is the habit, assumes the man is the abuser. Physical abuse in relationships is nearly balanced between man and woman, yet there are women’s shelters all over Canada and not one place for men to go, when they experience the same.

    Let me say it right away. SHAME on the men who are violent towards a woman. But women should not be assumed to be angels.

    This “violent male” stereotype allows women to be favored in getting help during and after acrimonious breakups. A study was made, which determined the free help available for women in a divorce situation will cost a man in excess of $5000. ESPECIALLY if the woman claims she was worried about violence. Then she can abduct the children, withhold access and NOTHING is done. Generally it will take 5 years even in the cleanest case before the Ministry and the court has the case flagged as being “opposite in nature”.

    The father has to pay for the help. Usually this is fair and legal help, controlled by a lawyer. The free help a woman gets often totally disregards the father’s elementary rights of joint guardianship and custody of the children. I have seen Women’s centre “Children Who Witness Abuse” programs for children with intake forms, where the father is pre-printed as “The Abuser” and the father will not even be interviewed because the women’s testimony is enough. The law is that no treatment or counseling of the child can be done without the consent of the father.

    Anyone who has witnessed separation and divorce knows that there are always two sides to a story and quite often both sides are so far off the truth, that certainly, certainly both parties should be heard before any assumptions are made. Especially assumptions that affect the innocent children.

    It is an established fact that children who experience their parents divorcing can expect a reduced life span of about 5 years. It is absolutely insane that Canadian Family Law turns the blind eye to this completely biased and unfair treatment of the two parents in divorce cases.

    I am not some egomanic abuser ranting here. I am a vegetarian, peace activist, firekeeper at first nation sweats. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I’m not defending some sick violent outburst in my past.

    I have just seen a lot of decent guys be taken down by a vengeful woman, who first made their life hell through a marriage then left and decided to hammer the last couple of nails in their coffin. Such men often end up with no contact to their children and bankrupt.

    Because of this stereotype.

    Consider this before injustice ALSO when you want to defend the poor women who have been beat up by violent men. It is not a general truth and should not be treated as such.

  • Kent

    Turn the situation around.
    Imagine the same ad with a muscular redhead woman, with an apologetic look on her face, serving a nice plate of food and a glass of wine to a man sporting a black eye – or a broken arm. The “hit” of emotion is immediately different. It is FUNNY.
    It is completely politically correct to laugh at it. It can perhaps even be seen as paying tribute to the legendary firey nature of redheads.

    There is no balance. It would be very hard to argue there is.

    • My immediate response to the man having the black eye is that he’s come home to the comfort of his wife after a sports accident or a rumble with men.

      I’ve worked as a marriage therapist and court witness for over 30 years on domestic assault where both men and women have been charged. The men rarely get hurt as bad as the women.

      • jarrahpenguin

        Thanks for sharing your experience, Marilyn. That’s also been my experience working at an MLA’s office and hearing from male and female survivors of domestic violence. The financial implications of reporting in straight relationships also tend to be greater for women, since they’re likely to be making less money, staying home, or working fewer hours than their husbands. No domestic violence should be ignored, but it’s reasonable to consider how gender plays into it.

  • jarrahpenguin

    Hi Kent, thanks for your thoughts. No intimate partner violence is funny. While I don’t think it’s necessarily acceptable to laugh at a man being beaten by his wife either, I don’t doubt that partner violence against straight and gay men is serious, and under-reported, partly due to pressure on men not to crack a “manly” facade.

  • Kent

    My experience is that there are absolutely rampant violent women, who will attack to make damage. Women are statistically more prone to using weapons, from knives over frying pans to guns.

    From my experience assisting counseling workshops etc. I think a fair measure of the physical violence by women is more of a “dare”. Nobody expects a woman to be able to win a fight with a man, so if she manages to instigate a full-on mutual fist-fight, he has lost all his dignity and she won the “being right” argument. Men thus get hit a lot during domestic fights and may sustain physical damage in terms of burst eardrums, and cut wounds from thrown furniture. The woman’s attitude is “Just you dare hit me back, and you’ll go down in flames”. The men report raising their voices, hitting tables, smashing things etc. while not EVER wanting to hit their woman – based on a mix of fear of the repercussions and general dignity.

    One of the more common modern maladies is “borderline” which mainly women suffer from. One of its characteristics is that the spouse never does anything right, the rules change on him all the time. He will walk on eggshells as a response, constantly being afraid there is something revoltingly wrong with him. In such cases, a physical fight would prove his suspicion of self and release all hell on his sinful head. In those cases, the female has so much of a power advantage the man will never respond violently, no matter what she does.

    I think the patterns are different due to gender differences, but still quite balanced in terms of physical damage. Men are probably quite prone to just shaking it off, still the reported cases of domestic violence in established relationships are something like 8% and 6% respectively, the 8% being the male perpetrator.

  • Kent – you are seriously screwed up. Really.

    What gets me is how often people think in such small terms. “We are not advocating violence against women so that makes depicting it all right”. Utter utter crap. People who make such statements must have a great deal of difficulty seeing beyond their own tiny world. They must surely be incapable of seeing that **messages** are sent.

    And Kent – you are missing the point in a spectacular fashion. What happens to men is beside the point. THIS ad depicts domestic violence. Gender bias be damned – it simply depicts domestic violence. End of story.

    “paying tribute to the legendary firey nature of redheads”?? Way to establish credibility.

  • Abuse always has long term effects. It is never funny although many comics use it to get laughs. Saying red heads can’t help themselves is like saying men can’t stop being abusive. It is about personal self control and emotional and physical responsibility. Using abuse or implied abuse to sell a service or product shows poor judgment.

  • dr_d

    Gotta agree with GoodGravey Kent, you are seriously screwed up! Hope you get some education around this, and probably many other issues. Maybe start with the phrase “male privelege” and probably “white male privilege” and go from there.

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  • Max Brenner

    She reflected the truth of the world around her. It’s a world full of violence hypocrisy and denial.
    Instead of taking it out on the messenger all these hater shoudlhange their lives and’ stand up to aggressors and abusers instead of empowering them with silence and repression of social awareness.

  • Max Brenner

    ‘Even with the scores of sexist advertising out there, I was seriously disturbed to come across a series of ads using depictions of domestic violence to promote an Edmonton salon.’
    Yeah, well hypocrites like yourself need to be disturbed. The Ad did it’s work.
    You try to cover up the real world and pretend it doesn’t exist. Your silence and hypocrisy empowers domestic violence.
    I met hypocrites like you all my life and find you sickening. You lie about what’s happening and try to cover it up.

    • jarrahpenguin

      First of all, I don’t think you’re using the word hypocrite correctly. If you follow this blog regularly you’ll see that I and other contributors write about domestic violence frequently – we are constantly trying to raise awareness of it as an issue and I don’t think it could in any way be argued that we’re trying to hide it or lie about it. Even from this post I don’t see how you got that.

      Second, “reflecting the truth” would be a more persuasive argument were it not a glamorized exaggerated depiction used to try to sell a business. I absolutely don’t think the ad was intended to get people talking about violence. The photos from Fluid’s Facebook page where they talk about how the model is “the hottest battered woman I’ve ever laid eyes on” show they weren’t taking it seriously. Their other ads show it’s part of a pattern of trying to shock people to create buzz about the salon. We should be talking about domestic violence – not exploiting and glamorizing it to improve business.

  • Max Brenner

    Blah blah blah…rationalizations

    You are suppressive and repressive.The more it upsets you goody two-shoes types the better.

    You care about advertising practices? – Baloney – you need a revolution to clean up the advertising business and you don’t care about that.

    You just want to hide things, sanitize them and have them where you can control them in your holy PC way.
    Thanks for protecting us but no thanks – you are just protecting yourself – your fragile mind.

    You can’t work to ‘increase awareness’ , abusers and society doesn’t want their awareness increased, you only serve to channel resistance to where it can be buried. Your awareness campaigns don’t do anything expect make you feel good and create the deceit the problem is being taken care of.

    This ad, is art which is used for advertising but it is art – a thing which you can never understand because you can’t accept the real world, abuse is part of life and always will be and therefore part of art. You mind control fascists are worse then physical abusers, This ad, done for whatever reason has done more for ‘awareness’ than you will ever do in your lifetime.

    The ad is nowhere near enough, we need lots more of them, for every part of life and splatter all over the front pages. The ad is real, let reality reign, let all the population be disturbed all day long, it’ll never be enough, let the illusion of a peaceful free orderly Canada be shattered in all the minds of all the hypocrites that pretend they live in a Just Society instead of the reality of personal abuse and fascist statism from the top down in every institution, at every level.