Lip Sewing Trend?
ADVANCE editors know a lot, but apparently we don't know everything. (What else is new?) We got an e-mail message last week from an NP protesting an ad in our March print edition
. (You might have trouble viewing the ad if you're not a subscriber to ADVANCE.)
The ad from the State of New York Department of Public Health urges health care providers, "Don't be silent about smoking." The accompanying image is of an Asian man with lab coat and stethoscope. His lips are sewn shut with black sutures. The image replaced the one in February's version of the ad of a presumably South Asian woman similarly dressed and with tape across her mouth. In April's ad, an older white man appears with his lips sewn shut.
The reader who sent the e-mail told us that "lip sewing is getting widely spread in the Asia[n] and other communities through out the world as a way of getting high on endorphines released with the pain encountered while the lips are being sewn. This has been equated to ‘cutting' in our [U.S.] teenage population." The sender questioned the wisdom of using the suture image in the ad campaign.
Curious, I googled "lip sewing." On the first two pages of entries, the big story was political asylum seekers in Australia who sewed their lips as part of a hunger strike. There were also several entries, some with (very creepy) photos, of young people describing their experiences with lip sewing as performance art or as the next step in their tattooing and piercing portfolios.
So I have two questions for readers. Have you heard about a lip sewing trend? And does the health department ad offend you?
And just to clarify: ADVANCE editors have no control over the ads that run in the magazine. Journalistic ethics requires that editorial and sales/advertising staffs don't mix.