Oh, tastefully nude national magazine photo shoots, how you vex us. Sometimes you boldly declare that a former child star is passed puberty, sometimes you are just trying to be funny, and sometimes, most vexing of all, you aim to “empower” us. The latter, which is what Allure’s annual naked issue strives to be, brings up complicated feelings for us ladies. (And it’s primarily ladies who are the subjects of such things, unless you count famous beefcake shots of Burt Reynolds or Richard Gere as empowering, which you could.)
Celebrating women’s unadorned bodies? Genuinely awesome. (Especially these days, when most of us lack the funding for the designer threads normally featured in women’s mag pages.) But Allure seems to have airbrushed the likes of Padma Lakshmi, Chelsea Handler, and Eliza Dushku “like a Playboy spread,” as one of my astute straight male colleagues observed. Not to mention that there’s something, well, confusing about how proud we’re supposed to be that the freakishly attractive people we call celebrities, who have trainers and possibly other body-oriented professionals on speed dial, are proud of their toned flesh. (And how they provocatively coo to the female readership, via Q&As, that they sleep naked, are “sensual” beings, etc., in a way that’s about half a step from being a Maxim interview.)
Is there a way to accomplish the same goal with a little more honesty and integrity? I’d venture that, within reason, we could handle a slightly less Barbie-esque presentation. As my straight male source also observed: “Most men like the gory details of a woman’s body. Thisspread is like looking at their wax figure likenesses more than fleshand blood.” That, plus maybe some more insightful discussions with the ladies about their body images (beyond the standard “we’re all beautiful and it’s sexy to love yourself and we’re good enough and smart enough and gosh darn it people like us” talk) – issues they’ve overcome, worries for the future, ways their bodies have affected their lives. Think it doesn’t matter if you have big breasts or a small waist or tremendous curves, that all that matters is what’s on the inside? Think again. That’s the kind of naked discussion we’d like to see.
What do you think of Allure’s naked spread? Too provocative, too plastic, or just right?