This "Sylvia Plath" portrait can probably be repurposed later as "Hipster Baking Artisanal Pot Scones" (VICE)

VICE is getting widely pilloried today for a fashion spread titled “Last Words,” which features models reenacting the suicides of female authors like Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and Elise Cowen. Refinery29 asked if it was: "Art, Offensive, Or Both?" The Observer called it "questionable." And Jezebel called it "breathtakingly tasteless," noting that "suicide is not a fashion statement." The site also declared: "making light of suicide and underlying mental health problems is sick, sick stuff."

We agree in principle, but to be honest we're having a hard time getting too worked up over this, because most fashion spreads are inherently tasteless to begin with. They may not contain overt references to mental illness, but these types of photo features almost always glamorize incredibly unhealthy women, and their eating disorders, making slower suicides seem perfectly normal. Most fashion spreads are already "sick, sick stuff," and one might argue that the unrealistic goals they set for women could also lead to depression, and suicide.

But back to the VICE spread. Instead of doing their typical edgy thing and leaving it up, or pointing out that death has been widely used as the theme in fashion spreads before, they took it down and left this message in its place:

"'Last Words' is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue, one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.

The fashion spreads in VICE Magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.

'Last Words' was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display 'Last Words' on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended."

Has VICE gone soft?

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.