People in the United States have a really weird obsession with nudity, specifically breasts. They’re used in advertisements to sell burgers, candy bars, beer, NASCAR tickets, clothing, men’s cologne, etc. A majority of the time, these breasts are covered by the product being advertised, the hands of the woman or a man, or skimpy clothes that barely cover the nipples. No one bats an eyelash when they see these types of advertisements, but when a woman voluntarily poses topless for a magazine cover or breastfeeds a baby in public? All Hell breaks loose and the planet bursts into flames!
There’s a problem with this; breasts are used to sell products and are continuously hypersexualized, and therefore people forget what breasts actually are. I’m going to give a quick health lesson because, as a product of the American public school system, I know a majority of middle/high school health classes didn’t do a great job of explaining the female body. Women’s bodies are not inherently sexual.
Women have sex organs (vagina, vulva, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix), but you know what we have that aren’t sex organs? Breasts. They are really just fat tissue and mammary glands which are used to feed babies, so what’s sexual about them?
I bring this up because, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with adult women willingly posing topless in a selfie or for a photoshoot. I especially don’t see anything wrong with a woman breastfeeding her baby in public. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breasts, period. I just don’t see why they are hypersexualized in pop culture and by society. I also don’t understand why the validity of a woman’s feminism or her worth as a person comes into question after posing topless. I’m referencing Emma Watson, Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski, and the countless others who have faced backlash for being comfortable in their own skin.
Now, where men are concerned, they can be sexually objectified, too. However, they’re allowed to walk around with their shirts off in public. No one sexualizes their chests, and the only real differences between their chests and women’s is that women have mammary glands. Anyone reading see this double standard? Men’s bodies are not sexualized in the way that women’s are, but while both bodies are anatomically different where sex organs are concerned, they’re very similar. I know— unbelievable, right? Who would’ve ever thought that women were actually equal to men in the sense that our bodies have the same bodily functions when you take our sex organs out of the equation. Crazy concept, dude.
A woman’s worth is not determined by the amount of skin she chooses to show. If she is empowered by exposing her breasts, a nonsexual part of her body, then there shouldn’t be anything stopping her from doing so. If she’s empowered by dressing modestly, that’s great, too! An amazing aspect of feminism is that female empowerment depends on the woman, not the ideology. So whatever gives a woman a sense of empowerment, she should feel free to do so. No, I’m not saying she should do so at any time because there are different times and places for nudity. However, if men are allowed to walk around shirtless and there’s nothing wrong with it, then why not women? If a man’s worth as a person doesn’t come into question when he is seen shirtless, then a woman’s worth shouldn’t come into question either. Also, let’s normalize public breastfeeding instead of asking women to breastfeed in a bathroom stall. There’s nothing obscene about breasts, so let’s stop acting as if they’re anything more than mammary glands.
I’m Olivia Lepage (’19) from Westland, Michigan studying Communications and Film. I currently live in the F/M area year round and consider this tundra my second home. I sing Alto 2 and am President of Cantabile, I work at the Circulation Desk in the Carl B., and I do shows with Concordia Theatre as much as I can without spreading myself too thin. Chocolate chip cookies are my only weakness.