Over the past few weeks, the #MeToo movement has taken over social media, with women sharing harrowing stories of sexual abuse and harassment in the wake of the disturbing allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.
The hashtag, though well-intended, has also been criticized, with some questioning whether or not the movement pressures women to out themselves as victims. As the writer Alexis Benveniste pointed out, no one "owes" Facebook a personal story. And, while the amount of women opening up is truly staggering, it will never accurately show the full number of victims who choose to stay silent about their abuse.
Canadian artist Gab Bois touched on the complexity of this viral movement through a recent photo revealing an unconventional locked-lip piercing. Without any context, one could mistake Bois's statement for another example of weird Instagram beauty "trends" à la squiggle brows or nostril hair extensions. But, in fact, there is a much deeper significance to this look.
As Bois, a self-described "ex-art student," told POPSUGAR, "This idea also came to me at a time where a lot of people were calling out their abusers on social media. As much as I was proud of them for speaking up, I couldn't deny my feeling of total fear when I thought about of speaking out about my own experiences with abuse."
So Bois purchased "a bunch of different door locks" from a dollar store and got to work. Although she wanted to make viewers "uncomfortable," through the piercing, Bois was actually lying down during the photo shoot, which meant the locks weren't ever pulling on her lips.
The result is a harrowing visual that's not easy to look at. These locked lips are painful, weighty, and shudder-eliciting, but it gives perspective into the decision to stay silent about abuse. Whether you took part in #MeToo or not, this look serves as a reminder that a hashtag does not define a complex, personal experience.