Because everyone knows posing naked is the best way to gain status/earn respect/help push the women's movement forward, it's no surprise that the benevolent folks over at Time Out New York are jumping on the birthday suit trend and allowing readers to view (clothed) snapshots of everyday women and vote on who they most want to see in the buff.
The vote was announced in last week's "Horny Issue":
TONY readers (Women. Duh.) want to strip for you. Read their stories, and vote on whom you want to see in her birthday suit. One winner will appear, in all her glory, in a future issue of our magazine.
The women who have sent in their pics and stories are diverse in age and ethnicity, but what struck me is the common belief that doing this will somehow lend a sense of validation to their lives. Take Fiona Bayly, 40, Upper East Side, for example. A triathlete, Fiona writes:
"I'm a former dancer and have been a competitive athlete since age 7. I went to the world championships in New Zealand as a member of Team USA, and I've posed as a professional model for Nike. For TONY, I might 'pin' a racing number on my body or pose like a swimmer. I've always been a strong advocate for women's athletics; one of my intents is to have the general public recognize that female athletes are just as accomplished as male athletes. Posing nude would help 'unhide' us."
Really? You've competed in international competitions, finished grueling triathlons, posed for Nike...and you think taking off your workout gear will help the cause of women athletes not being valued?
How unbelievably sad is this, people? I mean, it may true - the world is screwy like that - but, my God!
Some other gems:
Alina Braverman, 36, Financial District; mom and entrepreneur:
"I am going through a divorce, taking care of my seven-year-old son and starting my own company. I have an amazing new boyfriend who is eight years younger than me. What I find sexy is a strong, intelligent, independent woman who takes care of herself. My initial thought for a fantasy shoot would be naked on the piers in running gear."
Heidi Exline, 31, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; works for a non-profit anti-hunger organization:
"My fantasy shoot would have to involve food, since I am insanely obsessed with eating and cooking. I would love to pose among tons of sweet things, like cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc. It would be in a cute little bakery and I'd be wearing an apron with ruffles."
(The fact that she works for an anti-hunger organization makes this doubly mind-boggling.)
Teresa Sellinger, 39, Sparta, NJ; stay-at-home mom:
"I consider myself an ambassador for New York; I'd love to be photographed as part of the city. My ideas include me wearing my Vegas showgirl outfit and driving a Central Park carriage; sitting in a tourist information booth, handing out maps; driving a cab; with open arms on the GW Bridge; driving the Circle Line boat; as an announcer or guide on one of the tourist double-decker buses; running through the sprinklers at the Chelsea Waterside Park with my kids; getting a haircut at Whippersnipper with my kids; or sipping milk shakes with them at Serendipity."
(Wait, so you want to pose naked while drinking milkshakes with your kids? Oh, that won't trigger horrifying eating disorders for them later in life.)
Following each woman's plea is a link that reads, "Want to see her naked? Vote now."
Is the human body a beautiful thing? Undoubtedly. I think having nude photos taken of yourself could be empowering if done for private reasons (I had the pleasure of interviewing Atlanta photographer Holly Sasnett for a Women's Health Magazine story about her work shooting women with eating disorders to help them overcome their shame and body hatred). I also understand no one forced these women to offer up their bods for public consumption.
Other than society, I mean.
OK, judgments aside, this whole "contest" got me thinking, "What if?" If I were to pose naked, what would best convey my personality? Sitting cross-legged at my laptop in Starbucks, cup of oatmeal in one hand, Cadbury Egg in the other? Running topless, mid-stride, along Lake Michigan, while I yell at gawking men for staring at me?
Honestly, I think my ideal would be something black & white and intimate, just lying in bed with the appropriate bits covered with a cool white sheet and sunlight streaming in. But I can tell you this: It would be for my eyes only, and no self-proclaimed 'horny' magazine readers would get to vote. (But also: It's not happening.)
How about you??