Nudity: Empowering or Objectifying?
Nudity in art is not new; in fact, it is considered commonplace in the realm of art with the naked female form traditionally and intrinsically having a place in this world. So,why is female nudity still sometimes met with outrage in the fashion industry? Why does one nude shoot still have the ability to ‘break the internet’?
With 2014 being deemed ‘the year of the nipple’ and 2015 exhibiting yet more nipples, in what Cosmo called “the biggest runway trend of fall”, it is clear to see that nudity – and the feminist message that goes alongside it -has a prevalent place on the runway.
Whether or not this is a good or bad thing harbours much debate; female nudity in fashion continues to create tension among feminists; debating between notions of objectification and empowerment. Ultimately, it is a question of who decides? To his critics, Tom Ford notably said that there is nothing stronger and more powerful than a beautiful woman – whether they’re naked or not. Whilst it is impossible to say whether Ford is right or wrong, a display of the female body, in a creative and artistic space, shows a woman in control of her image, which in a society of screenshots and ‘slut-shaming’, is absolutely paramount.
Undeniably, it is most disempowering for a woman to be told how to dress, rather than undress, to be told a skirt is too short, a bra strap too visible. However, high fashion has headed in the other direction and nudity is quickly becoming the norm.
It is Gigi Hadid’s cover for French Vogue, where she bares all in black and white, which has been grabbing people’s attention most recently. On the cover she looks poised, strong and certainly empowered, however I couldn’t help noticing that her body matched so many of those on the catwalk and covers of fashion magazines. A distinct lack of diverse female forms was realised; for female nudity to be empowering, fashion needs to include diverse bodies. For if the same nude body becomes the only presence on the catwalk, female nudity becomes disempowering for so many women.
Images: Vogue France, Vogue Brazil,