After seeing arabella and tavi post on Richardson, I felt like it was time for me to post as well. The sexual assaults brought against Richardson have been bothering me for a while and now, I have something I want to say.
The thing that bothers me about Richardson and various models coming forward and claiming sexual harassment is that even his friends are somewhat alluding to his “bad” behavior.
“I’ve worked with Terry and Terry has asked me to do some crazy things,” Jacobs said. “I know that those pictures will exist if I do them. But I’m a big boy and I can say no.”... Talking more widely about the industry, he added: “If a girl is underage, maybe the girl’s agent or chaperon should be present on the shoot. That’s the hard part. Who’s to blame or who’s to watch?” Marc Jacobs.
What I find so infuriating about Marc Jacob’s statement and I love Marc Jacobs, btdubs, is that Marc Jacobs is a famous fashion designer of three huge fashion lines, he has the power and the right to say no. Imagine, if you will, that you are a young new model and are working for Richardson, do you necessarily have the power to say no, to refuse a shoot that makes you uncomfortable and know that you may be blowing your big break? You can or you can’t. debating upon that scenario, I leave that up to your own valuation. Perhaps Rie Rasmussen can say it better than I, “…He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves."
I was talking to some of my friends about this and Richradson. All of their opinions where “He is a super creepy guy, he calls himself Uncle Terry..” And I quite frankly, I agree. As a photographer, he really bothers me on multiple levels. His artwork, if you want to call it that, uses an intense flash and features an almost pornographic type quality. One could say that it flattens the females body, making it look almost unreal. What it does, it highlights the variations in color, such as the nipples and pubic hair, particularly with darker haired women. The flash then highlights the most sexual parts of the woman while flattening any identifying marks on her body and even washing out her face, perhaps one of the most indentifying aspects of a person’s physique. The level of "comedy" and flash don't necessarily create art, what it creates is a disjunction of the body. Particularly, when Terry himself injects his own appearance in the image. I, as a consumer and artist, find his work creepy bc of how the flash flattens and almost distorts the body. His schtick is overt and obvious sexuality verging on shock and pornography, ie take for instance his work of batman and robbin making out. His work is hyper sexual but in a way without thinking, its shallow and an almost cardboard cut out version of sexuality. Richardson’s women are not women but sexual objects. They seem to lack thought and personality, in fact the only thing they same to posses are vaginas that Richardson sometimes uses as hats (The Journal, I’m looking at you). So, bottom line, I don’t like his aesthetic. And the beauty of art is that taste is personal and personally, I find Richardson’s work tasteless.
But perhaps the biggest problem is that Richardson is a creep and there is nothing really illegal about that. More infuriating, people don’t really seem to care. To be blasé and dismal of his behavior, is doing a detriment to the fashion community. To make an issue of body size and BMI, is great, it’s a step in the right direction, but then to brush these allegations under the rug, and they could be false, but to denounce victims and victim blame, is not only hypocritical but insulting to sexual assault victims everywhere. Assault, mentally or physically, is a crime. But even beyond that, what is appropriate on a set? There should be handlers on set, always. Some photographers are creepy, some situations are bad places to be in what is most troubling is what are agencies doing to combat this?
Jenna from Jezebel says,”The fashion industry has yet to demonstrate that it is capable of sidelining predatory individuals like Richardson — and the hesitancy of models to speak up has to be due in part to that fact, which reinforces the perception that any complaint would be futile. Agencies may simply not be equal to the task of protecting their models from sexual harassment on the job. And that's a troubling thought indeed.” But even beyond that, as a photographer, I find it so incredibly upsetting that there HAS to be a handler on set, shouldn’t the person in power, the photographer with the phallus (as Richardson sometimes calls the camera), be respectful of their subjects and respect their boundaries? I take my job, as a photographer, very seriously. If my models are uncomfortable, what can I do to make them more comfortable and keep them in a respectful and fun environment? Terry Richardson may not have done anything “wrong” in this case. But that doesn’t give him license to be a creep. Being a creep that takes off his clothes to make girls feel more “comfortable” on sets and often engages in public sexual acts in his studio, in front of assistants, even if the sexual acts were consistently. I’m sorry, that’s unprofessional and creepy. And that is what is most upsetting of all, Richardson is just a famous creep with a camera and the fashion world just finds that dandy.
We should band together, as a community, and say no to this behavior. I plan on not buying anymore publications that use Richardson’s work, starting now. I do not find Richardson’s demeanor or behavior okay or funny. Uncle Terry, you can kiss my feminist ass.