New York Times puts photo of partial female nipple on front page

Dylan Stableford
Yahoo News
New York Times publishes nipple on front page
The front page of the New York Times, Nov. 27, 2013. (New York Times)

Here's something you don't see every day: a female nipple on the cover of The New York Times.

The paper of record published a photo of a woman's partial nipple on its A1 front page on Wednesday, illustrating a story about breast cancer screening in Israel. The unidentified 28-year-old woman, whose face is not shown, removed a strap of her tank top for the photo to show a scar on her left breast. The top of her left areola is seen below the scar. A tattoo of the Star of David appears above.

It's not entirely clear if this is the first time a nipple, whole or in part, appeared on the cover of the Times.

But the photo was "scrutinized," the Times said, as was the decision to publish it.

"It was a beautiful photo and perfectly illustrated the story," Tom Bodkin, the paper's chief creative officer, said in a statement to Yahoo News. "There was some concern but that logic was persuasive."

"We always weigh the information an image conveys, its relevance to the story and image quality," Michele McNally, Times assistant managing editor for photos, added. "It was scrutinized."

And "Seinfeld" jokes aside, the story is serious. According to a World Health Organization report cited by the Times, Israel has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world. And many women there are grappling with the decision to undergo a double mastectomy in the wake of the revelation in May that actress Angelina Jolie underwent the procedure after testing positive for the gene that carries breast cancer.

It's not the first time a breast cancer photo has stirred controversy for the paper. In 1993, the New York Times magazine published a powerful post-mastectomy self-portrait taken by the artist Matuschka. The Times subsequently received "an unusually high amount of letters to the editor, ranking it as one of the most controversial covers in its history."

In 2012, Time magazine published a cover photo featuring a 26-year-old mom breast-feeding her nearly 4-year-old son, sparking an intense debate over both parenting and taste.