'Glee' Star Heather Morris Is Not Glamorizing Abuse

Another day, another Glee photo shoot scandal. This time, instead of the brouhaha being focused on Lea Michele and Diana Agron for having the audacity to strike provocative poses for GQ, the current controversy is surrounding Heather Morris for the eyebrow-raising portraits taken by celebrity photographer Tyler Shields.

In the photos, Morris is shown in a series of awkward positions with a clothing iron—including one photo where she's drinking the steam water (bleargh), and another where she's got the iron placed over a man's crotch—but that's not really what's freaking people out. Instead, it's the giant purple bruise a makeup artist has carefully painted over her left eye.

What's the big deal about a purple eye, you say? Well, according to some folks, it means that the entire photo set is glamorizing domestic abuse.



The images have stirred up quite a bit of angry commentary, such as this comment on Shields' website:

Why do you keep producing photos glamorizing violence against women? There is absolutely nothing new or revelatory about pics like this.

I'm guessing it didn't help matters that Shield posted the photos along with the note that "Even Barbie bruises," but I'm still scratching my head over how this glamorizes abuse, exactly. Do you look at the photos and get the message that violence against women is acceptable, or possibly even fashionable? I sure don't. Here's what I get out of these photos: they're provocative because that's what's going to get noticed. If these were just everyday pretty photos of a pretty blonde starlet, no one would care, there wouldn't be a thousand links to the photos floating around the Internet, and I wouldn't be writing this article right now.

No, there's nothing particularly new about a photo that combines violent imagery with beauty, but it's a combination that's proven time and time again to get people talking. Shields may not be the most groundbreaking photographer out there, but I think it's pretty clear he knows how to market his work.

In fact, if it's not obvious just by looking at the photos that he chose the theme in order to spark conversation, he clarifies his intent in a recent statement to Us Weekly:

Our shoot poses a lot of questions, but just like in real life, Heather is definitely not a victim. More like a really liberated woman.

Are the images a commentary on the tyranny of domestic life, the nature of being tied to an endless series of Sisyphean chores, the emotional battering a woman can fall victim to in this role? Or is Heather Morris just wearing a ton of purple goo on one eye? Choose your own adventure, but personally, I'm not going to get worked up over the idea that she's promoting abuse. There's too much real violence happening in the world for me to be offend by one celebrity's eye makeup of choice.

If you'd like to see some images from the shoot that are less black-eye-centric, here's a strangely compelling video from Shields:

What do you think about Heather Morris's image in the photos? Do you think it glamorizes violence?

Image via YouTube

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