We’ve seen them in magazines or online, whether the subject matter is fashion or something more voyeuristic: the topless female model with her hands strategically placed over her breasts, called the hand-bra. I don’t care about partial or total nudity – I’m a professional artist, I’m way past caring about any societal conventions on that subject – what I get tired of is the faux chic of deliberate deceit. The lure of topless or nude photos is common bait for the male peruser of the internet, but when the actual photos are women in awkward poses to cover up their “naughty bits,” I have to cry foul. There is nothing daring about a model posing topless or nude, a means of non-verbal rebelliousness in the face of cultural prudery, then covering up those parts of the anatomy that are the cause of the rebellion!
Now I’m sure some photographer or designer out there is going to remark that the point of many of these photo shoots is not the models, but the clothes they are wearing and the exposing of the breasts is an unnecessary distraction. Well, if that’s the case, then put something on them that works with the clothes in question. But that’s not really it and they know it. The problem is there’s always somebody out there who’s going to get their nose out of joint about nudity and these media outlets and fashion houses want to avoid the legal hassles. So they have their models pose so as to not upset the easily offended or out of some kind of whorish empowerment double standard: I’ll advertise that I’m not wearing any clothes, but you haven’t earned the right to see anything. Overall, it just looks like women who are either afraid of consequences or cock-teasers trying to be “artistic.” Regardless, a woman employing the hand-bra while not wearing a shirt is not “topless” in any but the most technical aspect of the word, so don’t advertise it as such. If you have to employ the “topless, but really not” look, get better and more natural poses so that you are hiding the bits without looking like you are hiding them. You’re supposed to be professionals; figure it out.
The really ridiculous aspect of all this is whenever I come across some woman on Model Mayhem, with obvious “enhancements,” who does lingerie and bikini modeling and has listed that she will not do nudes. I have to shake my head. I have less respect for the plastic surgery than anything she will do as a model, but I guess she feels she has a scrap of dignity she must preserve. It’s this kind of mental malaise that has led to the hand-bra: the chastity belt for visual cowards.