Skip to content

Is getting naked the key to happiness?

December 18, 2008
by

jenniferaniston-gq1

Last week while Gov. Rod Blagojevich was gettting arrested and Oprah was announcing she now weighs 200 pounds, actress Jennifer Aniston was also making headlines.

Aniston posed for the January issue of GQ magazine wearing nothing but a neck tie and you better believe that got some people’s attention.

Pop culture pundits say Aniston is not only hoping to promote her new movie “Marley & Me,” but that she also wants the world to know she’s not sitting home “getting fat” and sulking about Brangelina.

Aniston was quoted saying, in regards to the photo shoot, “It felt really good to be that comfortable with myself…” and this comment echoes the sentiments of many women who have posed nude for magazines.

While I’m thrilled that these women love their bodies, it frustrates me that posing nude is the supposed self-confidence booster that seems to be celebrated most in the media. Sure, a woman should have a right to pose nude if she wants to, but aren’t there other ways, better ways, to feel confident and celebrate our bodies? And is having folks lust over your photo real sexual power?

What do you think?

(This issue also being discussed at my blog GeorgiaMae.com.)

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2008 8:34 pm

    I say, now that we’ve all seen it, now what? Where does she go from here? It’s one thing to be nude, but another to show it internationally…as if you have nothing else going for you…

  2. phrodeaux permalink
    December 18, 2008 9:07 pm

    Female stars are only viable in our culture so long as they’re still considered “sexy.” So if you want to start getting those big paychecks again at the box office, appearing nude on the cover of a major magazine is just the trick.

  3. December 18, 2008 9:32 pm

    I think nakedness can be a real experience in self-acceptance . . . but I don’t know how/if that changes if it’s a photo shoot for a national magazine. It was really important for me, growing up, to become comfortable with my new adult body in the privacy of my own home, or in places like the swimming pool changing room or the sauna. And I’ve had friends who’ve done photo shoots for art projects and just personal pleasure . . . but not made them so public. Going public means you lose control over interpretation in a big way.

    Also: If your photograph is going to be touched up (and if you already fit the fairly narrow cultural definition of beauty), does displaying your body to the world do anything more broadly to help women re-think their standards of beauty?

  4. December 19, 2008 10:53 am

    What if we lived in a world where anybody’s nude body could be appreciated:
    – not just the bodies of overwhelmingly able, white, thin cisgendered women already famous in part for their beauty;
    – without slut shaming: without the assumption that activity is status, without the assumption that just because she wants to be publicly nude it means she wants to be publicly sexual, or that she’s “up for it”;
    – without suggesting that female bodies were available for purchase and consumption by men?

    (There’s a deeper conceptual problem, too. Even if the aspect of slut shaming, and the aspect of commodification of sexuality, were not present, to present something purely for aesthetic evaluation still means presenting it as an object for evaluation. Whether I’m looking at a Mondrian painting, a Russell Mitchell motorcycle, or Kevin Rodel’s newest piece of Arts and Crafts-style furniture, I can like it or not like it. Is in inherently problematic to present the body of a person for acceptance or rejection? I’m not sure. Shorn of all that other stuff, the simple dynamic of like-it-or-don’t may be an evaluation of the body and not the person, and it may not be a particular problem. But to get there, we have to get to a place in our culture where women are not so closely identified with the evaluation of their bodies by others.)

  5. December 19, 2008 11:58 am

    Something tells me this wouldn’t be getting such positive attention by pop culture pundits if it were, say, Beth Ditto.

  6. December 19, 2008 12:27 pm

    Yes, Zuzu. Beth Ditto doesn’t get lauded for being nude in public. Her nudity is not viewed as an appropriate consumer product.

    Nor is David Gregory. Hell, why not? I mean, he’s a good looking person, thin and conventionally attractive. I’m sure lots of people would like to see him naked. So why isn’t the new host of Meet The Press posing with a tie covering his genitals and nothing else? Oh, yeah. Because men’s nudity is not generally a consumer product. Or Max Cleland. He’s not female, he’s not young, he’s not thin and three of his limbs have been amputated due to trauma. Is his body worthless?

    There are so many conditions we place on whether we put people’s naked bodies on public display, but it all comes down to two things: there’s a narrow category of bodies that are considered appropriate for that kind of consumption, and that kind of consumption comes with assumptions about the person who goes with the body.

  7. jamievaron permalink
    December 19, 2008 2:08 pm

    I am consistently torn on the subject of public nudity as a personal empowerment tool. First off, I think it’s important to evaluate the motives behind the nudity as given by the person posing. Jennifer Aniston, in this example, claims that it proves to herself that she is comfortable with her body. Self-empowerment. But the vehicle for her empowerment is GQ, a male-identified publication, which I feel complicates things.

    But, isn’t that the issue here? As a whole, the idea of male and female sexuality is so complicated. Both the sexes get mixed messages about what is acceptable and not in our culture. When, say, Beth Ditto posed nude on NME, it was more of a “WOO HOO!” in the feminist community, than a… “she’s objectifying herself.” http://www.feministing.com/archives/007118.html

    So, that’s where my struggle is. How come it’s empowering for a woman like Beth Ditto to pose nude, but questionable for a woman like Jennifer Aniston to pose in the same way? Is it because we know that men are supposed to find Aniston sexy, but Ditto not? Do we not appreciate the courage to pose nude when it is done by someone that represents the cultural standard of beauty? Just because someone has the body that society accepts doesn’t mean that they are any less worthy of praise when they come to terms with their skin.

    Obviously, I am torn. I know I react in ways I don’t understand when it comes to feminine nudity. Beth Ditto on NME? Yay! Beautiful! Jennifer Aniston on GQ? Who does she think she is? Wow, what a ploy.

    Is that jealousy? Is that competitiveness? Is it a knowledge that Aniston didn’t REALLY do it to be empowered, but to sell mags? And is it a bigger deal for Ditto to pose nude (because her body is less accepted in society) than it is for Aniston?

    I can’t answer these questions. I can, however, be honest about the fact that sexuality is so complex that it takes so much time to untangle my true convictions from my societal influences.

  8. Nadda permalink
    December 29, 2008 6:53 pm

    Oh please. Look at the sex kitten pose, the coy, playful smile, the fact that this is a “men’s magazine”. This isn’t about body confidence, nor is it remotely artistic in content. This is 100% distilled sexual titillation. I used to like Jen A., but alowing herself to be overtly objectified for attention-getting purposes screams “sell out” in the most flagrantly anti-feminist way. Way to go, Jen, on prostituting yourself to pop culture.

  9. eroticundulation permalink
    December 30, 2008 4:55 pm

    @ jamievaron:

    From my sex worker viewpoint, I believe the issue between Ditto and Aniston is that Aniston is posing for GQ- a male owned-and-operated venue, in which Aniston is only a pawn, her sexual freedom of expression only so free and so powerful. Ditto, on the other hand, is the owner and operator of her sexual freedom, and thus in complete control of her expression. It rings a much truer freedom. I don’t like the thought of men owning my sexual freedom (it isn’t then really free), and determining the extent and definition of my sexual appeal, so I am more excited about Ditto than Aniston. Ditto is more powerful than Aniston.

    But I am also not offended by Aniston. I say, go girl.

    @ Nadda:

    “Way to go, Jen, on prostituting yourself to pop culture.”

    Ouch. I would like to remind you that prostitutes are people too.

    And what exactly is wrong with distilled titillation? I love sex kitten poses, coy, playful smiles, and being overtly objectified for attention-getting purposes. I find all of it an exquisite art, requiring specific skills. And it was my job for 15 years. I was fabulous at it. I’d be happy to teach you sometime.🙂

    So I say, way to go Jen, for using your goddess-given assets to capitalize on pop culture! (While simultaneously making my newsstand a little prettier.)

  10. eroticundulation permalink
    December 30, 2008 5:02 pm

    “And is having folks lust over your photo real sexual power?”

    Perhaps not the most intensely effective power, but it is certainly power. As the daughter, sister, and niece of womanizers, I can tell you that men like those I grew up with are completely mesmerized by female sexuality. Perhaps growing up with such men inspired me to harness that power for my own enrichment- financial and otherwise.

    Sexuality is a fabulous power, and we women are only beginning (over the last century) to rediscover how it works, and how to harness it. It is very exciting.

  11. Nadda permalink
    December 30, 2008 6:04 pm

    “Sexuality is a fabulous power, and we women are only beginning (over the last century) to rediscover how it works, and how to harness it. It is very exciting.”

    When that power can be revoked by those bestowing it on you at their whim, it’s not true power. If you can’t have the same degree of power 20 years into the future, it’s not real power.

    “And what exactly is wrong with distilled titillation? I love sex kitten poses, coy, playful smiles, and being overtly objectified for attention-getting purposes. I find all of it an exquisite art, requiring specific skills. And it was my job for 15 years. I was fabulous at it. I’d be happy to teach you sometime.”

    No thanks, hon. I set my own sexual parameters, I enjoy sex on my own terms. I seek out those who share my sexual values and fancies, so I’m afraid I never have need to turn myself into something I’m not.

    But I appreciate the offer. It was very kind😉

  12. eroticundulation permalink
    December 30, 2008 7:32 pm

    Nadda: “When that power can be revoked by those bestowing it on you at their whim, it’s not true power. If you can’t have the same degree of power 20 years into the future, it’s not real power.”

    eroticundulation: Ah, but punkin, the power I am writing about cannot be revoked. It is timeless and visceral, and the genitalia possessed by those between whom it sizzles matters not. It is more powerful than anything else we humans know. Men have tried to squash and extinguish it for millenia, and when that failed, they tried to control it (which they’ve succeeded in doing to some extent). But more and more we are learning to reclaim that power, and Ditto illustrates this brilliantly. Her power is much more potent in that way than Aniston’s. Nobody can revoke that. But Aniston, at the same time is not powerless. She’s merely less powerful in that way because she is mirroring that which is desired by mainstream (i.e., a mainstream male-defined version of sexual woman).

    Nadda: “I set my own sexual parameters, I enjoy sex on my own terms. I seek out those who share my sexual values and fancies, so I’m afraid I never have need to turn myself into something I’m not.”

    eroticundulation: That’s fabulous, Nadda! Don’t be afraid!🙂

  13. Nadda permalink
    December 30, 2008 7:52 pm

    “Ah, but punkin, the power I am writing about cannot be revoked. It is timeless and visceral…”

    You misunderstand. If, e.g, a 25 year old woman cannot possess the same “sexual power” over men at 45, it isn’t real power. If men set the criteria for that power, and, oh my, they most certainly do, then they can revoke it. And they most certainly do. Once you’re no longer considered fuckable by the patriarchy, poof!, there goes your power, sweetheart.

    “…Ditto illustrates this brilliantly. Her power is much more potent in that way than Aniston’s. Nobody can revoke that.”

    And Ditto is more powerful than Aniston because, what, she’s had more GQ covers? Ahhhhh, now see how that works? Aniston fits the criteria for patriarchal beauty/fuckability, Aniston gets offers to appear semi-nude on the cover of GQ, Aniston gets paid handomely for providing wanking material to the masses. Looks to me like the patriarchy has weighed in on which woman deserves the title of “Most Fuckable” and has wielded its power accordingly by bestowing status and wealth on the winner.

    “That’s fabulous, Nadda! Don’t be afraid!”

    ??

  14. eroticundulation permalink
    January 2, 2009 9:28 pm

    Nadda: “And Ditto is more powerful than Aniston because, what, she’s had more GQ covers? Ahhhhh, now see how that works? Aniston fits the criteria for patriarchal beauty/fuckability, Aniston gets offers to appear semi-nude on the cover of GQ, Aniston gets paid handomely for providing wanking material to the masses. Looks to me like the patriarchy has weighed in on which woman deserves the title of “Most Fuckable” and has wielded its power accordingly by bestowing status and wealth on the winner.”

    Nadda, YOU seem to be the one subscribing to the patriarchal determination of fuckability here. The “status” bestowed on Aniston is only “status” if one subscribes to that perception of “status”. I don’t. Ditto doesn’t. Because she doesn’t subscribe to it, they can’t take it away, and we can live fully powerful lives. And trust me, Nadda, any sexually self-aware 45-year-old woman who understands and wields her own sexual power (not corporate/capitalistically defined sexuality, which is distinctly different- I call it bubblegum sexuality) knows that she rocks all over any 25 year old girl. Ask Mae West and many other unbelievably powerful older women (like Sharon Stone, Salma Hayek, Madonna, and Jacqueline Bissett just to name a few).

  15. Daniel permalink
    March 30, 2011 1:45 am

    The short answer: Yes.

    The longer answer: The people I know who spend more time naked are happier than those for whom wearing clothes is compulsory. I don’t know if it’s causative or correlative.

    I am not going to define Aniston’s experience for her, that would be presumptuous of me. If she chose to define it publicly, who the fuck are we to question the validity of her definition?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: