Embodying Withdrawl by Mary Rizzo

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Embodying Withdrawal:Abjection and the Popularity of Heroin Chic by Mary Rizzo The advertisement begins with a woman's voice speaking the word, "Obsession," as we watch a muscular man pose for the camera's eye. The word "fascination" flashes across the screen, quickly followed by "fetish" and "preoccupation." Accompanying these are images of a woman's naked back, a nude woman face down on a couch, and the man, again. We realize this is not a "real" advertisement when the male model looks worriedly into his briefs, as "preoccupation" is spoken. The next shot is again of the woman's back. This time she is swaying rhythmically and urgently moaning. The voice asks, "Why are nine out of ten women dissatisfied with some aspect of their own bodies?" The camera pulls back and we see the woman retch into a toilet. The voice answers its own question by stating, "The beauty industry is the beast." [1] This "uncommercial," made by the media watchdog collective Adbusters, is a wry spoof of Calvin Klein's television advertisements for Obsession perfume. More than merely a clever parody, though, this advertisement points to a significant trend. The fashion industry, with its array of models, magazines and photographers, has been under serious attack in recent years for its portrayal of women, which groups like Adbusters and About-Face [2] see as leading to eating disorders, poor self-image, violence against women and drug use. These first and last accusations are leveled most heavily at the style of fashion photography known as "heroin chic," which displays, without airbrushing or heavy cosmetics, the extremely thin faces and bodies of female and male models in withdrawn poses and in urban settings. These attributes, which are exaggerated almost to the point of absurdity, are seen as invoking drug use, earning the style its name. The backlash against heroin chic even gained

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