After a London Fashion Week catwalk show saw models with painted black eyes, bruises and split lips, Kate Orson asks how Christians should respond to ‘fashionable evil’.
Model Irina Shayk, wore a fake black eye on the catwalk of the Mowalola SS24 at London Fashion week. Multiple models strolled along the catwalk wearing facial injuries including bruises, bleeding noses and swollen lips. The show was inspired by the 1996 film Crash which fetishises car crashes.
Fashion always pushes boundaries, but there’s something particularly distasteful about wearing a black eye. While the inspiration might have been car crashes, the image of a black eye evokes thoughts of domestic violence, as if it were cool and sexy.
On X (formally Twitter) human rights campaigner Aisha Ali-Khan voiced her objections, writing, “Giving supermodels a fake black eye is absolutely reprehensible. What an insult to victims of domestic violence seeing injuries like this glamorised for public consumption.” Mowalola’s response was the enigmatic: “We run from pain but we need pain to survive.”
The image of a black eye evokes thoughts of domestic violence, as if it were cool and sexy.
A glance around at fashion, films, music and culture might imply she’s onto something. Everywhere you turn it’s the dark, the negative that is grabbing people’s attention. Lyrics and films tell stories of pain and suffering. Models are serious and sullen. Being unhappy is seen as cool.
As any fiction writer will tell you, a good story needs conflict, and so perhaps it’s not surprising that pain, suffering, and darkness are everywhere in the culture. In a capitalist society there’s also profit to be made from dissatisfaction and desire for more.
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There’s even science behind it. Negativity bias is our tendency to focus on the negative as a survival mechanism to protect us from potential threats. Research has found our minds to register negative stimuli more readily and dwell more on negative experiences.
Perhaps it also has something to do with our sinful nature. As fallen people we are pulled towards temptations that aren’t good for us, and are deceived into thinking it’s sexy, fun, and pleasurable. As a young adult I wallowed in my emotions, listened to miserable music, and couldn’t relate to people who were too happy and cheerful.
As fallen people we are pulled towards temptations that aren’t good for us, and are deceived into thinking it’s sexy, fun, and pleasurable.
London Fashion week was a reminder for me that we Christians have an important job to do. We aren’t going to see happy smiley faces parading down the catwalk anytime soon. We need to be the light. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
It might not seem fashionable to those around us, and for some the dazzling brightness of a Christian might be too much for their eyes to take in. But there will be some who listen to the call, who decide to walk the narrow path, out of the darkness.