Hurricane Sandy has wrecked havoc along the Northeast, to the extent that she is known as the largest Atlantic Hurricane on record. The storm caused the deaths of at least eleven people and resulted in power outages and destroyed homes. This kind of chaos is serious, but recently, the story of a model, Hurricane Sandy, and an inappropriately timed photo shoot has become predominant in the news. The model’s name is Nana Gouvea, and she decided to pose with the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy in the backdrop: broken cars, fallen trees, and a stormy sky. Gouvea looks at the camera in a variety of sexily charged positions without apology. The model, whose husband snapped the shots, reportedly likes storms because they give her time to spend with her husband. Her weak excuse for her love of storms, however, has caused instant backlash.
And understandably so. Many people have called out Gouvea on her lack of sensitivity to the victims of the Hurricane Sandy, as people have lost their lives and their homes. Dissenters of the overwhelmingly negative reactions to the photographs seem to maintain the following mantra: she isn’t hurting anyone, so what’s the big deal? The big deal can be broken down into two main reasons. The first, and most important, is that these photographs represent how desensitized people can become to tragedy. The ability to empathize with others, to feel deeply for someone else’s plight, makes us human. What Gouvea shows, however, is monstrosity. Whether or not she was aware of the implications of her photo shoot at the time, she is essentially re-appropriating an event, a setting of brokenness and loss, so that it becomes a setting for “looking good.” This supreme selfishness and lack of empathy makes the photo shoot monstrous and her actions less than human.
Secondly, the “big deal” about Gouvea’s photo shoot is the light that in which it portrays the fashion industry. While this was not a photo-shoot done by any professional photographer or created for a magazine, its medium is associated with fashion. Additionally, many newspapers categorized articles concerning the incident as fashion stories. For example, ABC News’ story on Gouvea, “Model Nana Gouvea Uses Sandy Wreckage for Photo Shoot,” was placed under their “Fashion” headline. In light of the negativity that the industry usually generates, this kind of attention is unwanted. Many people view the fashion industry as frivolous, expensive, and almost insular from the rest of the world. And Gouvea’s photographs exemplify this attitude that the fashion industry does not want and frankly cannot afford.