Yay Nipples! (But Only On Men)

Photos by Alyssa Coyle

How can society simultaneously sexualize and censor women’s bodies depending on the context? Women are frequently used in art and photography in an exploitative way. Their breasts are exposed in art, but censored in society. Nude or topless women are often considered a beautiful, “artistic form,” especially in photography. When it comes to commercial photography and society in general, women’s bodies are considered taboo and inappropriate. Where is the line drawn between these adjectives so commonly used to describe women’s bodies? 

The way these female subjects are depicted in art is often the result of the male gaze, or the societal notion of seeing women through the eyes of a heterosexual male. The male gaze is predatory and sexual; women are not depicted in a respectful way at all. When female bodies are put on display for the sole pleasure of the viewer, they are being objectified. 

Many female model poses are ridiculously unrealistic in advertisements. In the media, female bodies tend to be censored, yet sexualized at the same time. Many deodorant advertisements feature topless women, strategically covering their breasts with their hands, but putting on deodorant does not require a person to be topless. 

It is not often that you see male models in advertisements or commercials positioned to strategically cover their nipples, nor a male model giving a shy, “sexy” look over their bare shoulder to the camera. The difference between male and female models in both commercial photography and fine art can be glaringly obvious.

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