Corpses in couture gowns

Murder is so hot right now, according to "America's Next Top Model."

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Thanks to Feministing for tipping us off to what I was sure was a highly elaborate and well-executed joke dreamt up by an Internet trickster hoping to lampoon the fashion industry. But, no: this week’s episode of “America’s Next Top Model” actually featured a murder-themed photo shoot. The girls spent hours in hair and makeup: purple hand prints were painted onto one girl’s neck; cherry-red, gelatinous material, replicating blown out brain-mush, was coated in another’s hair; and one girl, a victim of organ theft, had deep, gaping holes simulated over her heart and intestines. We aren’t just talking pallid corpses wearing couture gowns — this is murder as high fashion.

The idea for the shoot itself is twisted, yes. But, then the show’s judges opened their mouths. Jael, shown strangled to death in bed wearing a black frilly number, is told: “The hands bother me in this photograph…” (Damnit, rigor mortis is just so unbecoming!) To Natasha, who posed as a drowning victim, a judge says: “She’s totally upped her game.” (Yes, before she only approached the lifelessness of a corpse!) Brittany, posed as a victim of electrocution with her glistening leg teetering over the edge of a bathtub, is told: “I love the leg.”

Oh, it gets better. Posed as a stabbing victim — her chest gushing blood all over an elegant white gown — Whitney is told: “It’s the first photograph that I’ve seen of you where you actually look like a fashion model.” Another judge adds: “I agree that this is a fashion shot, but you don’t look dead to me. You look like you’re dying.” Sarah, shown in a stairwell, her body covered in burgeoning black-and-blue marks is told: “The look on your face is just extraordinary. Very beautiful and dead…I think Sarah is the classic example of someone who isn’t typically pretty, but translates amazingly well on film.” (Or when dead.)

What’s the next photo shoot going to be? A skin-and-bones model splayed out on the runway where, after months of subsisting on lettuce and diet soda, her heart failed her? (Wait, they’ve already damn near done that.) There are so, so many inappropriate jokes to be made here. But, the judges make a joke of themselves — stirring our worst fears about the fashion industry and its taste for corpse-like models — so it’s hardly needed.

I shall simply leave you with this quote from ANTM judge and self-proclaimed catwalk guru Miss J: “You’re so used to moving, that when you’re dead, you’re just that: capital D-E-A-D, dead.”

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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