Kate Middleton’s breasts got suddenly famous, and the uproar ensued. As you know by now, on September 14, the French magazine Closer printed photographs of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless on a vacation with Prince William — without Kate’s knowledge or approval. Consumers of gossip mags know that this is hardly unusual. We fawn over pictures of celebrities on vacation, excited by the reality that stars have private lives outside of their public prominence. But once their private lives — and private parts — become public domain, we’ve got a serious problem.
The media storm following the publishing of the photographs was intense. Closer has received a lot of criticism, but according to hollywoodreporter.com, the editor of Closer defended her decision to publish the photographs: “Laurence Pieau described the photos as a ‘beautiful series’ that showed a couple in love, and were in no way degrading.” Pieau stated, “There’s been an over-reaction to these photos… It’s a young woman who is topless, the same as you can see on any beach in France or around the world.”
Over-reaction? Easy for you to say, Ms. Pieau: your breasts aren’t pasted on the pages of a widely distributed magazine for all of France to see. (Since the 14th, the photos have become more widespread, being published in Ireland and Italy as well.) This is sexual objectification at its best. Kate Middleton’s wishes were totally disregarded, all for the sake of “beautiful art.”
Oh, and for, you know, money. According to Thomas Roussineau, the magazine broke France’s privacy laws by publishing the intimate photos. However, as hollywoodreporter.com explains, “It was likely the magazine had weighed up the potential cost of a fine against the revenue the photos would bring.” Ugh. Exploiting a woman of prestige for the sake of extra revenue is royally screwed up. No pun intended.
That said, I can’t help but wonder — why the fuss? We all have bodies and some of us have breasts, and Kate Middleton is no exception. Why is it that every time a female celebrity dares to go topless, the media erupts in a fit of woo-hooing, nail-biting, nearly-salivating celebration? Kate Middleton’s choice to sunbathe topless was not a sexual invitation or a promiscuous endeavor. It was a personal choice, a private choice, and ought to be treated as such.
Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.