In an essay she published for Harper’s Bazaar on Monday, comedian Chelsea Handler boldly voiced her support for women posting topless (or totally naked) photos of themselves to social media. In doing so, Handler drew comparisons to the crystal clear “nude selfies until I die” speech given by Kim Kardashian earlier this week at the 2016 Webby Awards.
— ExtraTV (@extratv) May 20, 2016
Handler writes in the essay that she is sort of an exhibitionist and likes to expose herself on a regular basis.
“I text my friends naked pictures of myself. I ruin group pictures by pulling a boob out. Everyone has seen me naked; good for them. When I go on dates, I’m glad that we’ve gotten that out of the way so they already know what’s coming.”
But Handler also stresses that, unlike someone in the vein of Kim Kardashian, Chelsea’s promotion of her own naked body is not meant to be a sexual expression.
In fact, Handler writes, she hopes that constant exposure to nearly-naked female body images will work to de-sexualize the female body in people’s minds and make freer bodily expression by Chelsea Handler and her fellow women more acceptable.
“Desexualizing something is much more interesting than sexualizing it,” Handler elaborates.
“It’s a fresher take, and I guess that’s the one difference—the only one—between Kim Kardashian and I. She’s trying to be sexy. Putting yourself out there in that way has a different motivation. I’m trying to lessen the sexiness of it and make it an actual human body thing.”
The “less sexy and more natural” message that Handler claims she is trying to send with her many topless pics is demonstrated clearly by the actual photos she posts to the Chelsea Handler Instagram, in which Chelsea’s body is quite obviously unedited by image editing softwares such as Adobe Photoshop. In contrast, Kim’s nearly-nude selfies are decidedly more clean-looking, and the “love your body” message is thereby tainted.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 15, 2016
It is a ridiculous double standard, writes Chelsea Handler, that men are free to walk around without their shirts off if it is too hot, but women are expected to cover up.
“Just because women have bigger breasts, we can’t be seen nude? We provide life and food to people and we’re shamed for that? If I was flat-chested would it be okay? If I’d had a mastectomy, would that be okay? Is it because we are going to arouse people that we can’t walk around with our boobs out? I wanted to desensitize it, so I [posted topless pictures of myself] over and over and over again.”
— Hassan Mansoor (@hmjavedpk) May 11, 2016
Handler continued by saying she does not think a celebrity’s topless photos should be newsworthy — they should just be regarded as normal selfies. Ironically, Chelsea is banking on the fact that her own topless selfies will reach a lot of people, Chelsea Handler fans and otherwise, and will be highly publicized in order to promote that message.
“It shouldn’t make news when I pose naked. It should just be okay. If we want to walk around with our boobs out, I think that’s our prerogative.”
Vanity Fair says Chelsea Handler is absolutely correct in saying Kim Kardashian has a very different perspective on the female nudity issue, pointing to an essay Kim wrote after her infamous bathroom mirror naked selfie was criticized for being rude and disgraceful.
“I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality,” Kim wrote.
“I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say to me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”
Basically, Kim Kardashian thinks a female’s naked body is a powerful symbol of independence, whereas Chelsea Handler thinks it is not a symbol at all, even though society tells us it is.
Do you agree with Chelsea Handler, K.K., or neither of them?
[Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File]