White recalls an evening chopping the heads off images of topless women for a ground-breaking online Nuts brand extension Assess My Breasts. Women were invited to submit topless images of themselves for the perusal and judgement of Nuts magazine readers. “Faces were a no-no – part of the "appeal" was anonymity so the girls would feel comfortable with being publicly graded. And so, there I was at 9pm, attempting a mass head-chopping on pictures we kept on file and had sought permission to upload.”
Girls also responded, the early 2000s was post girl power. What better way to display liberation than bare your breasts and allow young men to give them marks out of 10? It was sexy, it was apparently empowering. So empowering that you wouldn’t want to be identified as someone taking part. But still totes sexy.
Have we taken the sexy, or perhaps Teh Sexeh and isolated it. Ask someone the old monthly Cosmo question: What’s Sexy Now? And tanned skin, long hair and perky boobs defying gravity above a flat stomach seems to be the answer. It’s certainly what we have been told is sexy. From Page 3 to glossy magazines the models all strive towards a common aesthetic. Unless of course they are hoping to feature in Bizarre magazine where Teh Sexeh is pale skin, long hair and perky boobs defying gravity above a flat stomach. You crazy individuals. The majority of replies will not mention the face.
In fashion and in Lad mags the head of a woman seems to be of little importance. When a woman’s head does feature, then an expression akin to a blow up doll’s open mouth and wide eyes is necessary to demonstrate that ‘hey, I’m as surprised as you!’
We have headless mannequins to save money and to outwit (ha-ha) the pace of fashion. No head, no style, no style, no outdating. Fashion spreads and online fashion stores will cut off the head of their models like the Princess Mombi look was going out of style.
White notes that Assess My Breasts moved Nuts on from “the idea that the girls' personality was essential. That the readers weren't just interested in her cup size – they wanted to know who she was, where she lived, what her hobbies were, how she took her tea. It's fair to say that a pair of disembodied mammary glands is about as far away from this philosophy as you can get.”
It’s almost enough to have you fondly recalling the days of Claire Short’s head being pasted on to a Page 3 girl ‘stunner’.
As in any piece discussing women, bosoms and feminism, the obligatory quote from Object had to creep in. White presented her quotes from former Nuts models, who were quite happy to have their youth documented in such a way, to Anna van Heeswijk: “The issue of choice is complex and doesn't exist in a vacuum…the issues we're discussing are far broader than those of individual choice.” With that Heeswijk performs her own version of decapitating a model’s head, reducing her to a pair of (objectified) breasts. Breasts that can’t possibly know their own mind.
Empowering. Isn’t it?