Controversial billboards in Fresno turn heads

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno salon owner, Maysoon Salah caters to clients who want to stay away from the chemicals used in traditional salons. She says she uses only organic ingredients at "Thread And Sugar Salon" in Northeast Fresno and she's passionate about changing the way women think about beauty.

"I want to create an awareness. What I'm doing is a form of activism," Salah said.

Salah's marketing with a message can be seen on billboards around Fresno.

One at Blackstone and McKinley in Central Fresno shows a woman's nails on her bare pregnant belly promoting the idea that expectant moms shouldn't get chemical-heavy, "acrylic nails". And one in North Fresno shows a woman with sugar on her face instead of waxing for hair removal.

You might see just an advertisement for a beauty salon but it's what you didn't get to see as a billboard that Maysoon Salah hopes will fire-up talk about organic beauty alternatives.

These billboards were rejected by two advertising companies in Fresno all showing nude models, who are covering up body parts with their hands. Salah says she wanted people to have a strong reaction to the pictures.

"I needed a provocative image with a very blunt statement," Salah said. "There's nothing sexual about my billboards. I think they're aesthetically appealing and artistic and they are beautiful in their message"

Action News contacted "CBS Outdoor" to ask why it rejected the billboards but the company declined to comment on its policy.

Salah also wanted to put the ads on Fresno buses.

We did get a response from Ken Hamm. The director of FAX said in a statement about Thread and Sugar salon's campaign, "an ad was produced that showed nudity. It was rejected because it could be offensive to a segment of the public. No matter how tastefully nudity is presented, it can be perceived as distasteful or inappropriate by some segment of the public and for a public bus.

We showed the billboard pictures to women in fresno and got some mixed reactions.

"It's artistic. I wouldn't want my younger kids seeing it." A reporter asked "but you're not offended by it?" "I'm not offended by it," Shelley Corkins said.

"It's not looks like it's an advertisement for something sexual," Christine Grooms said.

Michael Blunt, another local salon owner, thinks that kind of debate is good for an industry that thrives on change and innovation. "I thing it's great if we can step out of the box a little bit and say, 'I'm trying something fresh, I'm trying something new".

And Salah believes Fresno is ready for that change, one sign at a time. "Advertisements like this really make a statement about who we are, how accepting we are and how evolving we are as a city."

"Thread and Sugar Salon's" Facebook page shows the rejected billboards and asks people to weigh-in on the controversy.

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