Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Reproducing violence: Rihanna, Chris Brown and the aestheticisation of the Ciudad Juarez Femicides.

Joyce, Laura Ellen


Laura Ellen Joyce


When Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte worked with MAC to create their Autumn/Winter 2010 makeup collection and based their ideas on the murdered women of Ciudad Juarez, there was a public and industry outcry which led to the withdrawal of cosmetics with names such as ‘Factory’ ‘Juarez’ and ‘Ghost Town’. Rodarte tapped into the borderland mythologies of Juarez and crated an illusory fantasy world which sought to simultaneously obliterate and venerate the dead women. One eyeshadow, ‘Bordertown’, appears to look like chunks of rotting flesh streaked with blood. The models for their catwalk show had hollow blackened eyes, green-white pallor and lips that had been bloodlessly ‘lip-erased’ with a product specifically designed for the purpose.

In Spanish, maquillar is to make up, to assemble. The women in the factories are asked to repeat simple mechanical operations thousands of times a day to make up the products which will be sold by global corporations. At the same time their images are being assembled, made up and aestheticized to create a cosmetic erasure of the crimes which they are subject to. When two American women and a global company make profit from this dangerous cosmetic erasure in order to sell products, the borders between bodies, countries, art and crime become leaky through the act and the illusion of symbiosis between the women of Ciudad Juarez and the products they inspired is threatened by the haunting of exploitation.

Since then, the situation has become more complex. Chris Brown got a neck tattoo, based, he says, on the promotional material produced by MAC for the Rodarte sisters campaign. The image, which is of a skull, bears a striking resemblance to the police photographs of his ex, and now current, girlfriend, superstar Rihanna. The controversy over gendered violence, race and exploitation, begun by Rodarte and MAC, came back, haunting, once again. This paper seeks to address these connections, and ask what happens when domestic violence collides with globalism, fashion and murder.


Joyce, L. E. (2013). Reproducing violence: Rihanna, Chris Brown and the aestheticisation of the Ciudad Juarez Femicides. United Academics Journal,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 1999
Online Publication Date May 6, 2013
Publication Date May 6, 2013
Deposit Date May 31, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Violence; murder victims; make-up;
Public URL

You might also like

Downloadable Citations