“Morality” Juveniles Quiver Over Exposed Breasts

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Jordache Jeans has launched an entertaining set of print and TV ads featuring model Heidi Klum. On TV we see Klum’s topless back; in print we see her looking into a full-length mirror, her out-of-focus breasts sort-of visible, nipples strategically covered with hair.

Predictably, those obsessed with hiding women’s breasts from unmarried Americans went berserk. Robert Peters of Morality in Media, for example, suggested that this represents the end of civilization as we know it.

As a bonus, his press release also insulted sex education and readers of Playboy. Peters is especially miffed because the ad appears in “The N.Y. Post, [is also] one of the few major city newspapers whose editorial and op-ed pages reflect politically and socially conservative points of view.” One of the few conservative papers? He apparently doesn’t get outside New York very much.

He must be joking when he righteously sniffs about polluting the “daily newspaper, which most people still purchase because they want to stay informed about what is happening in the world.” Perhaps he hasn’t looked at the Post since Rupert Murdoch took over. “Stay informed?” Saying that people read the Post to stay informed about the world is like saying that people take elevators to stay informed about music.

People who freak out about women’s breasts need to grow up a little, not talk about “morality.” Like any reasonable 13-year-old boy, Peters keeps careful track of boobies—“it is to my knowledge the first time a half-page photograph of a topless woman has appeared in that paper two days in a row.”

Similarly, Peters lovingly describes a recent photo of “Courtney Love sitting in her birthday suit, with breasts fully exposed except for a few beads” (Is that a complaint or a sigh of relief? Doesn’t the coverage of “a few beads” contradict the outraged/thrilled “fully exposed?”)

This is the same attitude that leads these people to count “damns” and “hells,” and the number of milliseconds you can see Janet Jackson’s nipple or someone’s butt crack on TV. Your federal government can fine a radio or TV network for each use of a forbidden word, and it funds the Parents Television Council to count them. There’s a dignified use of democracy.

How juvenile is it to approach something as complex and gloriously messy as sexuality with the consciousness of a high-school accountant? These “morality” preachers make the Merchant of Venice look like a humanist.

Exactly how damaging are women’s breasts on TV, film, magazines, and newspapers? With nude beaches, topless TV ads, and magazines that mix nudity with gardening tips, a half-billion people have already done this experiment, and the results are clear. They live in a place called Europe, a place that American “morality” crusaders conveniently ignore.

PS: Please let’s not stoop to “But the ad exploits women.” All ads exploit people—they feature men in dresses, suggest that a car is a “lifestyle purchase,” and use product names like “Nutri-Pals” that feature “natural” ingredients like brown sugar. Klum has three kids, so let’s hear it for topless mothers.

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