Beautifully Painful or Painfully Beautiful?

They say that ‘beauty is pain’… but what do they actually mean?

Controversy was sparked regarding a Bulgarian fashion mag, 12 magazine, in one of their editorials “Victims of Beauty” shot by Vasil Germanov. The shoot features six perfectly made up models who are seemingly injured all in different ways. They appear bruised, bloodied and slashed, and all in an attempt to show off makeup.

The magazine received a h6a00e54ef9645388340163062bad0a970d-640pi-620x431uge backlash from these controversial and edgy photos. After reading many articles on opinions of the shoot, most critics and the majority of the public gave huge criticism on the promotion and glamourisation of domestic violence. The public was outraged and disgusted that a fashion magazine would promote the sensitive and serious topic of violence on women. But this made me think into what caused the public and critics to come to this conclusion? Why does a women with an injury the response of domestic violence?

“This shoot was left without an introductory text, thus allowing everybody to translate it the way they want,” editor-in-chief Huben Huben6a00e54ef9645388340163062bb4ef970d-700wi-620x863ov told the Daily News in an email.

“A lot of people read ‘domestic violence’ in those pictures, but it is their mind who came up with that explanation of the shoot, not ours. Editor in chief Hubenov is very surprised with the negative feedback, as the photo is not intended to represent domestic violence.” (Murray, 2012)

The image was left open to interpretation and he explains that, “We are quite frankly scared of how many people translate ‘domestic violence’ by looking at women with wounds. But it is a problem of the society they live, not the fashion photography we make.”

”The fact that society has immediately drawn these parallels with domestic violence reflects the issues in our society. As they say, ‘fear is in the eye of the beholder,’” Hubenov said. “And if they took the time to actually examine the photographs, instead of superficially jumping to [conclusions], they would’ve seen girls who look at us strongly, who look confident, who are above the wounds, above everything. They are independent.”  (Murray, 2012)

The photos are actually aimed represent the illusion of makeup and the imagery of fashion. The perfectly pictured models all sport a flaw; a black eye, slashed throat and mouth and a half burnt face. It is truely the definition of sweet and sour. Does this mean they glamourise violence? The work is definitely against the violence approach, the magazine editors say they never mention domestic violence or reference to”pain inflicted by men on women”. It shows what is behind a flawless and beautiful exterior and exposes the imagery provided by makeup and fashion.


So what do you think…

Art or Violence?




Pann J, 2012, Beauty Editorial Depicts Beat-Up Women Sparks Outrage, Social Media, Mashable post, viewed 6th April 2014, < >

Wischhover 2012, Does this ‘Beauty’ Editorial Glamorize Domestic Violence, Fashionista, viewed 6th April 2014, < >

Unkown 2012, Brutal ‘Victim of Beauty’ photoshoot by Vasil Germanov and perverse, Ningbo, viewed April 6th, 2014, < >

Murray R 2012, Magazine Explains Controversial Fashion Shoot Says Photos Aren’t Intended To Glamorize Violence, Daily News, viewed April 6th 2014, <


2 thoughts on “Beautifully Painful or Painfully Beautiful?

  1. stefschultz

    Art or violence? I say art.

    The assumption that this spread is in any way endorsing domestic violence is, seriously, just absurd! The title ‘Victim of Beauty’ should be a giveaway that the intention here is to starkly contrast something that is considered beautiful and evokes positive emotions within the viewer with something that is considered ‘ugly’ and uncomfortable to look at. I think the pictures are artful and considered and quite frankly, tasteful. People like to be offended, that’s a fact… so I suppose they were never going to publish this without backlash but without a man in sight, I find it hard to understand where domestic violence comes in.

    I really liked this piece, the images are a great example of how ones own ideology effects how we interpret everything we consume.

    1. Really glad you found the topic as interesting as I did! I found it startling how many people in the public connotated the image with domestic violence also. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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