An online ad for an Edmonton hair salon is provoking angry responses from family violence groups and calls for a boycott from social media users.
The ad pictures a well-coiffed woman with a vicious black eye sitting on a couch. Behind her stands a menacing man proffering a diamond necklace.
The ad reads: "Look Good In All You Do."
Fluid Hair began the ad campaign about a year ago, but the controversy hit the mainstream media after the ad was discovered by bloggers this week.
Critics say the ad diminishes the seriousness of spousal abuse and would like to see the ad pulled.
"I think it's more than lived its useful life," said Jan Reimer, co-ordinator with the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.
"This advertisement is at risk of glamourizing an issue that is of serious and life-threatening, ongoing concern to all the women and children who use our shelters," said Janine Fraser, director of the Edmonton Women's Shelter.
Ad is art, says salon owner
Salon owner Sarah Cameron defended the ad in a press release posted on her website, calling it artistic and open to interpretation.
"Is it cutting edge advertising? Yes. Is it intended to be a satirical look at real-life situations that ignites conversation and debate? Of course. Is it to everyone’s taste? Probably not."
However, the release apologizes to abuse victims and promises to donate to the Edmonton Women's Shelter proceeds from services when a customer mentions the ad.
"If survivors of abuse interpret this ad to make light of any abusive situation, we sincerely apologize, that was never our intent as there are people that worked on this campaign who are survivors of abuse."
The salon has sent an email explaining the ad to Edmonton Women's Shelter.
Reimer said women's shelters would welcome the chance to work with the salon.
"Hairdressing salons can have a tremendous impact," she said.
"So many women go to hair salons, it's a natural place to give out information about community resources.
"As you see from the ad, this is a well-dressed woman with an expensive necklace. It does give the message it happens to everyone."
Cameron blames the media for creating the controversy in the first place.
"Edmonton is presently the murder capital of Canada," the release states. "Media's energy and time may be better spent boycotting dangerous areas, gangs, guns, other street weapons, or a sick justice system, which unfortunately is still sadly lacking when it comes to punishing abusers …"