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Fluid Hair Salon ad

An ad campaign by an Edmonton hair salon has set the Internet abuzz with debate over whether it glorifies domestic violence.

The stark and moody photo depicts a well-dressed young woman with long, frizzy hair sitting on an old couch and sporting a black eye while a man in a suit stands behind her holding out a presumably expensive necklace.

The ad's tag line reads: "Look good in all you do."

Some battered women's groups, including the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters and the Edmonton Women's Shelter, have complained the ad is inappropriate.

Other people have gone onto Fluid Hair Salon's Facebook page and called for a boycott of the business.

Fluid's owner, Sarah Cameron, and creative consultant Tiffany Jackson say they are shocked by the outrage the ad has sparked and insist they had no intention of condoning or making light of domestic violence.

Ms. Cameron says in fact the ad was meant to provoke discussion about the strength of women in difficult situations.

"If you look closely she's strong, not looking at him, not accepting the necklace," Ms. Cameron says in a blog on the company's website.

"Our thought process goes so much more deeply than that. But again everyone is entitled to their own interpretation. With that, if any survivors were upset on any level, I am professionally and personally sorry."

Ms. Jackson says she herself survived abuse as a teenager when she lived for four years in a home "where I was verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused."

She says she has also battled manic depression, suicide attempts and addictions but is finally in a better place, in large part because of her ability to confront the issues and talk about them.

"Obviously, Sarah and I were a little blindsided by the international response that this received today as we got so little attention when we originally posted this over a year a ago," says Ms. Jackson.

However, she stands behind her work.

"I try my very best every day to confront what scares me. I am a survivor of trial and tribulation and just because this current society demands that I humbly submit to all the bullying and beg for your forgiveness over this photograph, doesn't mean I have to and I won't."

Public reaction on the salon's Facebook page appeared to be largely negative, though some praised the ad as eye-catching and effective.

"For everyone saying this is ok and just stating that it's saying to look good in what ever situation, (they've) obviously never woke up in an abusive relationship wondering if it would be their last day alive," wrote Robin Lugonja. "Disgusting on so many levels..."

"Abuse is wrong but I somehow think that some of you that are against this ad campaign would cheer the loudest if it was the man sitting on the couch with the black eye," noted Alden Gushnowski.

"As a woman, a hairstylist and also the woman on the couch, I won't touch this with a 10-foot pole," wrote Jodi Holmes-Przywara. "But, what I will say is for as many people that dislike the ad there as just as many that will go to the salon because of them. Its marketing, good or bad."

"People need to relax," wrote Gustav Dietrich. "This is their art. Not everything is glamorizing something."

Tiffany Jackson's mother, Phyllis Jackson, says it's a little ironic that so many people who went onto the Facebook page to complain about the ad used emotionally charged and violent language.

"Did you all know that verbal and emotional abuse is as harmful or more so than the physical violence?" blogs the elder Jackson, who says is a survivor of domestic violence and worked as a director of women's shelters for 20 years.

"Shame on you for deliberately hurting someone because you don't agree with them."