Is Keira Knightley’s recent topless photoshoot a step forward in the desexualisation of the female body?

The Stand sheds light on its impact on how the female body is perceived.

Maddie Gold

You may or may not have heard of a woman called Bonnie Fuller. As the former editor-in-chief of numerous publications, including Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, it could be argued that Fuller is a feminist icon with regards to her overwhelming presence in popular culture media. She is currently the editor of HollywoodLife.com, an online celebrity gossip magazine. You also may or may not be aware that Keira Knightley recently released a fabulous topless feature for Interview magazine.

Discussing the shoot recently, Knightley claimed that the pictures were taken in a bid to combat Photoshop in the media and to promote a positive body image for young women. Upset that her body has been altered and her features enhanced for film posters and fashion features, she agreed to the revealing shoot on the condition that it was released unaltered. A brave move, even for a beauty like Keira!

Upon googling the freeing photos, I was led to HollywoodLife.com. There I was able to read about the ‘sexy photoshoot’ and then given a limited opportunity to share my opinion on the photos:

‘Do you like Keira’s shoot?’

  • ‘Yes, so pretty!’
  • ‘Nah, bit boring.’

These are the options offered to Fuller’s readers, who are apparently incapable of forming thoughts about the feminist implications of the shoot, and the affect it may have on the media’s constant alteration of women’s bodies. Despairingly, over 22% of readers found the shoot ‘boring’.

But panic not! Fuller’s website does offer readers the option to comment upon this small step forward for the feminist movement! Hurrah! I found myself laughing out of despair and incredulity as I scrolled down the worrying list of comments:

‘tleast its not pepperoni nips, her tits are too generic for me, and also only partly nude, can’t fap to this >:(‘ – Eduard Khill

‘A Carpenters dream: Flat as a board easy to nail’ – Jerry Mcardle

‘What is the point of showing everyone her non-boobs?’ – Gone With the Wind (this literary genius has chosen to share their irrelevant views anonymously.)

I appreciate that the comments on any online forum must be taken with a pinch of salt, not least those found on HollywoodLife.com, but what does it say about our generation when such offensive comments are available to impressionable men and women with just a couple of clicks? The Free the Nipple movement is making steady progress with the recent increase in photos of the naked female body published online and in magazines.

I spoke to Jacana Bresson of St Andrews Free the Nipple, who work to desexualise women’s breasts:

“It’s nice to see naked breasts which don’t look like something out of a porno, but something closer to a normal standard. This seems to me like progress for the movement.”

Regardless of your position on the issue of desexualising women’s bodies, you must agree that Keira’s photos offer a slightly deeper dimension on the issue than HollywoodLife would have you think.

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