Recently, a spate of A-list celebrities—including Jennifer Aniston, Heidi Klum, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paris Hilton—have decided to pose topless. Anyone who knows me or has read my writing knows I’m not a prude. If any consenting and lucid adult wants to pose topless, or bottomless, or middleless, that is their prerogative.
But there is something about this crop of boob-baring ladies that deeply offends me. Not because they are drawing attention to their breasts instead of their brains. Not because they are sending out the signal that, to be a successful female artist and/or entrepreneur, you have to “show us your t*ts.”
I even enjoy the fact that these women, most of them over 35, two of them with multiple children, still have such great trainer-toned bodies that they probably didn’t even need to be airbrushed—at least, not that much.
But rather, the whole thing offends me because it’s so—boring. It’s so boring I’m even having trouble coming up with words to describe how boring it is.
There’s just something not sexy about taking off your shirt for millions of dollars so you can flog designer water packaged in bottles that are destroying the planet, as Jennifer Aniston does in her SmartWater ads. Nudity as corporate shill is just so—yawn.
Nor is there anything titillating about posing in only a man’s tie, as Heidi Klum does in an ad for Project Runway, to boost the ratings of the reality show that made you a multimillionaire but that isn’t even remotely relevant anymore. Heidi’s boobs, lovely as they are, don’t entice me enough to want to watch Lifetime, and never will.
At least Gwyneth Paltrow, posing topless for the UK edition of Vanity Fair, isn't actively plugging a product, but in reality, she sort of is. She appears as part of VF’s “jewelry feature” (i.e. paid advertisement) and is draped in “an array of Louis Vuitton baubles,” according to The Daily News. I’m betting a few of these baubles made it back to her jewelry box. I do, however, admire the fact that Gwynnie never had her minimal assets artificially enhanced.
Surprisingly, it’s Paris Hilton’s topless spread that bores me the least. Her photos for V magazine are bold and edgy, and, with her hair cut in sharp Brigitte Bardot layers and her eyes rimmed heavily in kohl, she looks nothing like the frothy bubblehead we’ve come to expect. Yet she doesn’t do herself any favors by referring to herself as a “Barbie doll” and yammering on about "the Paris Hilton brand." If her photos aren't tedious, her words are.
None of this is really artistic, which is probably what these women have told themselves it is, and, considering that the shots are so coy and don’t even really show their boobs, it's not daring either. You wouldn’t think that beautiful celebrities going topless could be a yawn-inducing experience, but somehow they have made it so.
Maybe next time they will shock and inspire us with their brains rather than bore us with their breasts.