in paper magazine’s efforts to “break the internet” this week, kim kardashian graced the magazine’s cover balancing a champagne glass on her behind. while we all know this isn’t kim’s first time flaunting her assets (pun intended), few are aware that the same photographer, jean-paul goude, shot a black woman in similar fashion decades ago. blue telusma writes for black news website the grio that goude was grace jones’ long-time boyfriend and described himself as being fascinated with “ethnic minorities—black girls, prs. i had jungle fever.”goude’sfascination teeters between interesting, provocative and disturbing — he once photographed grace jones in a cage with raw meat. this history supports the feminist theory that images like those above not only objectify women of color, but also pander to white voyeurism.
for more on mrs. west and the history behind black women’s derrieres being a source of our objectification read blue’s article on the grio.
between the ma’at tattoo under her breasts, countless instagram pics and the recent lui magazine cover, rihanna’s breasts receive lots of attention. therefore, we shouldn’t be shocked that her nipples played a starring role when she received the cfda fashion icon award last night. rihanna’s dress was covered in swarovski crystals — and not much else.
she looked ethereal, almost other worldly with the sparkling dress, gloves and head wrap. with the dress and her nipples earning a spot in media outlets around the world, i’m wondering what it means for a woman to bare her breasts and disregard norms that typically make such an action taboo.
first, rihanna’s pixie dust dress demands a conversation about double standards. in a society where the way a woman dresses invites judgments about her purity and sexual mores, women are held to much stricter rules about acceptable styles of dress than our male counterparts. for example, why is it appropriate for a man to show his chest, but not a woman? pondering this very question, scout willis (demi moore and bruce willis’s daughter) recently started the #freethenipple campaign to protest instagram’s rules that ban women’s bare breasts, including those of breast cancer survivors and breastfeeding mothers, but allows bare chested pictures of men. in fact, rihanna’s lui magazine cover was initially removed from her instagram account by the social media empire for this reason.
here’s the thing: i’ve always been skinny. well, there was the summer of 1992 when i gained 15 pounds, but otherwise, i’ve been pretty thin my entire life. however, in the black community, being a size 4 isn’t something to write home about, as having a shapely backside (a.k.a. “fat ass”) will bring you many rewards. Such benefits include endless cat calls, starring roles in rap videos, and bagging professional athletes. however, when one is sick of being objectified by her male counterparts, one must ask how being shapely is seen in larger society. here lies the irony, the curves that black folks treasure are deemed unattractive by western society. what we call thick, they call fat; however, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. the bloggers gabifresh and girl with curves prove that point to the highest degree. obviously, plus size is the right size.