Viral 'Terre Des Femmes' Photo Series Shares An Important Message, But Not An Original One

Viral 'Terre Des Femmes' Photo Series Shares An Important Message, But Not An Original One

A powerful feminist poster series about judging women by their clothing has gone viral -- but it looks strikingly similar to a project from 2013.

The series, produced by student Theresa Wlokka of Miami Ad School in Germany for nonprofit Terre des Femmes, was picked up by news outlets from Bustle to Design Taxi this week.

The set of three posters shows the words used to judge women as they relate to the length of her skirt, the depth of her neckline and the height of her heels. The concept behind the series is that women are judged no matter what they're wearing, regardless of whether an outfit is considered "prudish" or "revealing." The images highlight the type of everyday misogyny that holds gender equality back.

The series makes an important point about the way people make damaging assumptions about women based only on their physical appearances -- specifically, their clothing choices. However, commenters and Twitter users have pointed out that these posters bear a clear resemblance to college student Pomona Lake's 2013 piece, "Judgments." (See a side-by-side of the two projects below.)

Left, Pomona Lake's 2013 project, "Judgments." Right, Theresa Wlokka's poster for Femme des Terres.

Lake, who formerly went by the name Rosea, told The Huffington Post that she reached out to Miami Ad School after friends shared the new series with her, informing them that the idea had been plagiarized. Lake says the school never responded, but Wlokka reached out to her personally.

According to Lake, Wlokka told her that she had never seen Lake's work before, claimed that this poster series was her original idea and apologized for the inconvenience.

"Sometimes you can absorb ideas without realizing where it's from, but in this instance, word for word the projects are the same," Lake told HuffPost. "If they had emailed me and reached out for permission and credited me with the idea, I would have said yes."

A Twitter account appearing to belong to Frida Regeheim, who is credited as the ads' copywriter, was deleted Friday. A tweet sent earlier in the day from the account claimed that the posters' creators had been in touch with Lake and received permission to use her idea -- something that Lake claims is untrue.

Terre des Femmes have not responded to HuffPost's request for comment.

terre des femmes


UPDATE: 11:10 p.m. -- Wlokka gave her account of the situation in a statement to HuffPost later on Friday. Regeheim told HuffPost that this statement spoke for her as well:

It started with that we got an assignment in one of our classes to do a print campaign for a charity organization last year. We instantly decided we wanted to do something for female rights. As women we've been harassed several times, in different ways, based on the way we look. From men, but also from women. We're too harsh on each other and call each other names. And I don't know how many times I've read about rape victims that were wearing a mini skirt. Who cares what she was wearing? She should be able to go naked and it shouldn't matter.

We also talked about how we think when we dress and how a lot of women often dress to please someone else rather than themselves.
There's such a big black cloud over such a simple, fun thing as clothing. It should be a way of expressing yourself and something to have fun with. Not a foundation to judgement.

After we made the ads and it spread over the Internet, to an extent we're overwhelmed by, we heard about Rosea's picture and other ideas that also are in the same direction. Of course we wanted to be unique, but we didn't see it as something negative that others wanted the same change as us. And that's something that Rosea agreed on when we emailed with her. We're all fighting the same fight. When it comes to advertising there usually is something out there that's similar to your idea. In this case we see it as something positive since it's for a good cause. We're really happy that the campaign has started a discussion and we hope that it makes people think. About how we treat each other, not about the way we dress.

We were in contact with Rosea yesterday and also tried to reach her today as we can understand her point of view. So far we did not get an answer.

UPDATE: 3/22/2015, 11:30 a.m. -- An email sent to the Huffington Post pointed out that a similar idea has existed since 2010, printed on a pair of tights.

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