Thursday, February 04, 2010

Women's Nude Bodies Still Media's Preferred Currency

Originally written for Change.org.

As a woman endowed with lady parts of any size, take note: Your body is a tool to be used for profit, shock value and publicity. And when a company or cause wants to send a message, you and your ilk will no doubt be called upon to strip down and show the boys what you got.

The latest offender is Love magazine, a new fashion magazine that grabbed attention by putting plus-sized singer and columnist Elizabeth Ditto on their inaugural cover last summer (she later claimed that her image was altered to appear bigger than her actual body size). Their octople-cover third issue features top models wearing nothing but their birthday suits. What else could we expect from such a classy mag?

Of course they have a very good reason for baring the ladies' skin: "We took eight women who are generally acknowledged as the most beautiful in the world, got them to show off their bodies -- widely regarded as the most perfect in the world -- and photographed them all in exactly the same position for for the cover," Editor-in-Chief Katie Grand said. "We did this to show how much they differed physically from one another, which is why we also printed their measurements."

I don't believe for a second that they seriously thought that people would see eight nude super-models, including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, and begin to see the beauty in their differences. Besides, their measurements may vary slightly, but all eight models are stick thin. Not exactly a celebration of diversity. And I'm not about promoting fatness or thinness or any other body type as ideal or normal or "real" (I mean, Naomi Campbell is just as real of a woman as I am), but I don't think that exploiting the nude female form provides any awareness for anything but the magazine. And if Love is about self-promotion and shock value at any costs, the least they could do is own up to it.

Another issue is the fact that a nude woman has become the advertisement du jour. PETA routinely exploits women for the betterment of their cause. Men's magazines and network TV shows may not be able to show the entree, but they definitely advertise female near-nudity as a side dish. Films with gratuitous female nudity like Monster's Ball are rewarded and applauded for their "edgy" love scenes that conveniently keep the men protected. These images aren't celebrating femininity or the human body; they're used purely to draw attention to a product (or, in PETA's case, an idea) that is being pushed.

And if the shoe were on the other foot, with males being asked to bear everything for the sake of commerce, would these types of outcomes still be acceptable? Doubtful.

Related: 8 Naked Supermodels = Diversity

Love Put Eight Naked Supermodels on the Cover to Show How Different Their Measurements Are