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What do the subjects in the much-discussed mother-daughter lingerie photoshoot have to say about the still-swirling controversy that has made them instantly recognizable?

We reached out to Johanna Methusalemsdottir, the Brooklyn jewelry designer who posed with her 19-year-old daughter India Menuez for the stark, three-image series promoting the fall lingerie collection from The Lake and Stars. Here’s what she told us:

“As much as I am tempted to respond to all the slandering me and my first born have endured this week, I have chosen to rise above it. It is very easy to bully people from behind a keyboard where you don’t have to answer for yourself … but people should just keep in mind that words can hurt very much and as a mother that is probably what upsets me the most.

“As for the campaign itself, it is a very well art-directed and conceptual campaign and every pose was very well thought out. I feel that the images are beautiful and don’t feel the need to defend them.”

Her daughter, she adds, “honestly does not care what these people think.”

Johanna and India are next-door neighbours of Maayan Zilberman, one of the founders of The Lake and Stars, which frequently uses (and supports) people from its broad network of creative friends in its projects. They’re not professional models, but when their mom-child relationship was revealed last week on style site Refinery29.com and then Huffington Post, it triggered an outpouring of hostility from readers and bloggers who found the images offensive.

We published a sample of comments earlier this week, and The Lake and Stars have kept their followers up to date by posting more outrageous clips from The Today Show and Fox News, which reported one expert’s ridiculous Freudian spin on the whole thing — including the “phallic” cactus in one of the photos.

Not all the feedback has been so venomous, though. Dutch impressionist painter Nop Briex turned one of the photos into a painting, which you can see here.

This episode has sparked quite a backlash against The Lake & Stars by the kind of people who probably wouldn’t be interested in their fun, thoughtful fashions in the first place. And, sadly, it could also have a chilling effect on other creative fashion types who might otherwise be inclined to try bolder marketing strategies — but don’t want to incur a backlash from Tea Party fashionistas.

But if anyone’s been genuinely hurt by this controversy, it’s probably India, the pretty redhead in the photos who is an aspiring film actress and art school student and not the sort of person you’d expect to see getting trashed by Kathy Lee Gifford. India has already starred in the indie short film Crocker and has modeled for her mother’s beautiful jewelry label KRIA — even in her undies. Strangely, no one complained.

Here are some more images from Kria’s 2011 collection Crustacean, for no other reason than both Johanna and India deserved to be noticed for the right reasons.

NOTES: The candid photo in the middle of this article is of Johanna and India, at the opening last week of The Lake and Stars new pop-up shop on Walker Street just south of Canal in New York. The shop is open for one more week.

Kria‘s unique, elemental designs can be found at a number of NYC boutiques or through their webshop.

The Lake and Stars are hosting a party tomorrow (Nov. 19, 4-6 p.m.) at their store to showcase the work of another NYC indie undies label, TEN. That’s what friends do.

Posted in The Lake and Stars

4 Responses to “‘Words Can Hurt Very Much’: A Mother’s Response to Controversial Photoshoot”

  1. Lista says:

    Every young star in America must suffer the infamy component of public life. India is extremely charismatic and increasingly visible. It seems inevitable she’ll suffer this kind of nonsense because every other bright newcomer has faced the same. I can’t think of an actress that hasn’t been disparaged like this or worse, and this kind of treatment seems to be part of the deal now.

    Conservative psychologist experts might better spend their time diagnosing the obligatory hostility directed at those our culture celebrates while simultaneously trashing. Something about that seems a lot more curious and malignant than a cactus!

  2. Chris Hart says:

    Flottar myndir. Flottar Mæðgur. Húrra fyrir Iceland.. :)

    (Ed. Note: Translation from Icelandic: “Nice pictures. Sexy mother and daughter. Hooray for Iceland.”)

  3. Maggie says:

    Love your reporting of this ridiculous non-controversy. I’m glad the mother and daughter have taken the highroad and frankly I love The Lake and Stars even more for standing behind their artistic vision. The campaign was beautiful and there was nothing untoward or suggestive in any of the shots. Perhaps if the puritanical element were not so terrified of the human body, contact between humans and contemporary family relationships built on trust, friendship and not fear, domination and control, they would be able to see the beauty too.

    • Anon says:

      Stop defending that disgusting photoshoot and whining about anyone who criticizes it by claiming they’re ultra conservative and “puritanical,” which is the same term all you perverts use when you get called out for your abnormal tendencies. Just because most people don’t want to pose in lingerie with their mother/daughter holding each other sensually doesn’t mean they’re terrified of the human body, it just means they’re normal people who understand societal boundaries.

      There was no “beauty” in those photos, only implied lesbian incest which was the point. The women behind this campaign were intentionally being controversial in order to get attention yet now they’re crying because they can’t handle the backlash.

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