Is nude rude?
By Chew Wan Ying
Some of us still remember the buzz generated when Madonna went nude in her 1992 coffee table book Sex.
Fast-forward 20 years, and the Material Girl pulls a similar stunt at her concert in Istanbul, only this time the reaction is more of a huh? than a wow.
Blame it on the fact that she’s too old for that or that she’s done it far too many times. However, while Madge is busy proving to the world that she still has it, more girls – half her age and who look up to her as an inspiration when they were little girls – are doing it, too.
Baring it all in the media is no longer a privilege that belongs to the likes of Marilyn Monroe. Today you don’t have to be a curvaceous blonde bombshell to take off your clothes and command the press’ attention. Many female celebrities, from Britney Spears to Demi Moore to Natalie Portman, have bared their chest or derriere at one point.
Similarly, the public’s reaction towards nudity has gone from surprise or awe to “Please, not again!” while such acts are now widely perceived to be the instant route to fame for wannabes.
They would be forgiven to think so, especially when we are living in a world where we are constantly bombarded by images of female celebrities flashing their bodies at us, whether intentionally or not.
Off screen, you have Paris Hilton and Britney Spears popularising the panty-less trend starting a few years ago. Coupled with the not-so-occasional nip-slip and the paparazzi’s relentless pursuit of the next crotch shot, it gives rise to a celebrity culture where starlets are more known for their nude Playboy shoots than their works. (Yes, we are talking about you, Lindsay Lohan.)
Our Asian female celebrities have their fair share of caught-in-the-buff moments, though in an environment that’s generally more conservative, it’s still a big deal – big enough to cost a star his or her career. Just ask Hong Kong’s Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung, who were left to pick up the pieces following the Edison Chen photo scandal.
We’ve tried to find out why some female stars go nude and really, it’s more about image than anything else.
By saying that a former child performer is ‘all-grown-up’, it usually means they are sexier, be it in image or performance. Is it a wonder that we see an array of Disney darlings who can’t wait to grow up taking their first step by wearing a whole lot less clothes?
Apart from the good girls gone bad, it does not hurt that there are far more brave souls in filmmaking these days who wouldn’t hesitate to let their bodies be a part of storytelling in a film. For instance, Kate Winslet, who gets nude in almost 30% of her films. Or Tang Wei, who faced a media ban in her homeland China after appearing naked in those highly publicised scenes in Ang Lee’s 2007 espionage film Lust, Caution.
And because a female figure is still one of the best ways to draw attention after all these years, it has become a go-to option for activist organizations like PETA as well as breast cancer awareness campaigns.
Fame, fortune or career advancement are not the only reasons that prompt a star to get her kit off. On a more personal level, what’s the best way to capture one’s youth and beauty at its peak? A nude photo shoot, of course. That’s why we see more pregnant celebrities showing their baby bumps and more on magazine covers these days.
During her recent visit on our shore, Singaporean top model Sheila Sim told us: “Your body won’t stay this way forever. I think there would come a day when I would want to do a nude shoot, so that when I’m old, I can look back or show to my grandchildren, ‘Look, this is how great your grandmother used to look!’ ”
Hence, this results in a whole lot more nudity on display in the mainstream media – some welcomed, others not so – and we find ourselves rolling our eyes at Madonna’s latest act of mooning her audiences.
Published June 16 2012