Models Direct Reviews Aamna Aqeel’s Outrageous ‘Be My Slave’ Editorial Shoot

Models Direct reviews are usually about something positive but today’s review is very different…

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Models Direct reviews are usually about something positive, such as a product we love or one of our models’ performances on an assignment, but today’s review is very different.

Like most others who have witnessed it, Models Direct writers have been extremely shocked by images from Pakistani fashion designer Aamna Aqeel’s recent editorial shoot.

The shoot, entitled ‘Be My Slave’ features a female white model and a dark-skinned male child model who is clearly intended to represent her slave in a series of images. It has been condemned by critics across the globe and described, among other things, as “vile”, “inexcusable”, “morally and socially offensive”, “disturbing”, “degrading” and “tasteless”.

According to reports, Aqeel has denied the existence of any racist undertones and has argued that the shoot was intended to spark debate on child labour. However, many feel that the images and title of the shoot do not reflect this claim.

The white female model featured is shown in couture clothing while a dark-skinned male child model performs various duties for her, including holding her bag, umbrella and tea cup. He looks down in all the images, and in one is shown sleeping on the floor while his presumed mistress sits in a chair reading a fashion magazine.

The pictures make extremely uncomfortable viewing to say the least and for many it appears to condone child labour as apposed to condemning it. In a report published in The International Herald Tribune last week ‘It’s Certainly Not Fashion‘ Salima Feerasta said:

“Fashion loves to be provocative and sometimes it seems nothing is taboo. French Vogue did a shoot with sexualised images of models as young as 10, Vogue India did a feature with impoverished Indians carrying Burberry umbrellas and wearing Fendi bibs. A Bulgarian magazine 12 did a shoot called “Victim of Beauty” showing bloodied, bruised models that appeared to glamourise domestic violence.

“In each case, the magazines had an explanation to give, that they were trying to highlight the use of child models, or attempting to say fashion was for everyone or trying to show the juxtaposition between horror flick make-up and beauty. In each case, the real reason was simple: commissioning distasteful fashion shoots to ensure media coverage and boost sales.

“It’s facetious of [Aamna Aqeel] to claim that she was trying to stimulate a debate on child labour. The [female] model wearing her clothes is clearly comfortable with her dominant position. She is not made up in a way that shows her to be the villain of the piece. The use of a dark skinned child in a shoot entitled “Be My Slave” certainly reeks of racism, however much the designer may deny it.

“I feel ashamed to be involuntarily publicising the shoot but we need to speak up against vile images of racism and exploitation. There are some taboos fashion shouldn’t break.”

Whatever is to be believed about her intentions, Aqeel has certainly offended an enormous amount of people this month. Is it really true that any publicity is good publicity?