Fascination with Kate's breasts and Karen's clothes makes idiots of us all
THE PHOTOS, in case you haven’t seen them, show Kate standing beside a dinghy in a rolled-up wet T-shirt and a pair of bikini bottoms. They were published this week in a number of British tabloids, alongside text inviting readers to examine her “bulging belly” and the bare cleavage “popping” out.Nasty? Yes. Offensive? Horribly. The subject of an international outcry over privacy? Well, no.
The reason for that is because the Kate in question isn’t Middleton. It’s Moss.
According to the tabloid industry’s often contradictory code of ethics – in which we’ve all now been given a useful primer – paparazzi shots of celebrity breasts are fine, so long as they do not belong to a British royal.
Like most people, I think the Irish Daily Star was wrong to publish the Kate Middleton photos. But what I really object to isn’t the single set of blurry balcony shots that show what the future British queen looks like with her top off, from hundreds of metres away.
Rather, it’s the way women are reduced wholesale by certain sections of the media to the sum of their (preferably naked) body parts.
Take the Irish Daily Mail, whose front page yesterday declared, “Kate’s a woman, not an object.” At the same time, its Mailonline website invited you to peruse those Kate Moss holiday snaps or a photo of the actor Salma Hayek, whose infant son had pulled up her top, exposing her breasts.
It’s not just the Mail. They’re all at it, pontificating loudly over the intrusion into Middleton’s life before inviting you to have a goo at Emma Watson’s fractionally exposed nipple or Kirstie Alley’s weight loss.
Of course, the prurient fascination with the lives, the choices and the bodies of women isn’t confined to the British tabloid press.
Several Irish newspapers ran photographs this week of Sharon Collins, who was recently released from prison.
The images were accompanied by references to her “blonde tresses” and her “tight jeans and pink fitted shirt”. It’s difficult to see what public interest, if any, is being served here.
And where is the public interest in the ongoing fascination with the wardrobe of Karen Woods, the wife of Seán Quinn jnr? Or in the full page the Irish Daily Star devoted this week to the outfits worn by Catherine Nevin during her trial a full 12 years ago?
Women such as Collins, Woods and Nevin – along with celebrities such as Moss – are perceived as being “in the public eye” and so have waived their right to be asked whether they consent to having their photographs taken.