With two small children, I rarely have an opportunity to watch morning television (or television at all), but this week I took a mini-vacation to my mom’s house and as I was sipping some coffee and doing some tummy time with my 2 year old, I flipped on Good Morning America to see what was up with the morning talk show circuit. I wasn’t trolling for anything ridiculous, but what I saw made me do a double take. And then it made me very mad.
GMA was interviewing Cobie Smulders, a mom of two, star of How I Met Your Mother, and current Avengers actress. While GMA was praising Smulders for how great she looked post-baby on the cover of Women’s Health, they also censored her photo. Heavily. For side boob. (Will update tomorrow with official censored photos)
I choked on my coffee. Did I really just see that? I thought.
Two minutes later, GMA showed the photo again. And, again, it was censored. This time, much more obviously. With pixels, not just a blur.
I really can’t believe that in 2015, the side of a woman’s boob is considered too offensive for morning television, but the top of a boob is not. There’s literally nothing scandalous about Smulders Women’s Health cover. And it’s sold in stores everywhere. I’m cringing thinking about those magazine cover obstructors – you know, the plastic piece that hides everything but the name of a magazine – being used to hide Smulders image. Would the cover of Men’s Health, with a topless man, be censored this way? No, it wouldn’t. And let’s not get it twisted: this is not an attack on men. This is an attack on the way society and the media treat female nudity. And, for the record, Smulders isn’t showing anything “private”. You can see more nudity at any beach. You can even see more nudity on GMA, as long as the subject is not a mom.
Why are we continuing the horrible trend of telling women they should cover their bodies? That their body parts are something to be ashamed of, hidden – or worse, immoral. Recently, an awesome dad wrote an op-ed in the Houston Press about his 5-year old being told to cover up her shoulders. How are spaghetti straps on a kindergartener inappropriate? Why are we teaching our girls this?
This is not a religious debate – but some religious mandate women cover their bodies. The Duggar Family, of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, have infamously used the word “Nike” to tell the men in their families to avert their eyes if a women or girl is showing what they consider to be too much skin. Since the Duggar girls wear a uniform of floor length denim skirts and shoulder covering polos, I think it’s safe to say that only the face and wrist/elbow portion of the arm is ok. In Muslim countries, women must cover their head and face to varying degrees. Some must cover everything, and must see the outside world through a dark net that obstructs their eyes. In our country, where you’re supposed to be free to make your own decisions about religion, we have a very puritan, sexist attitude toward women and nudity. Male nudity = okay. Female nudity = only ok in certain situations. And, sometimes, only okay if it is titillating.
In my opinion, women should be allowed to celebrate their bodies. Girls should be able to wear spaghetti straps to school. We shouldn’t tell women that their bodies are offensive. Ever. We shouldn’t body shame them into insecurity.