For the second time in a year, Glamour has put a topless female celebrity on its cover. In May, shortly after the magazine’s redesign, Lauren Conrad appeared in a familiar, summery, tanning-my-boobs-with-my-girls pose. This month featured Kate Hudson, looking Amazonian (by way of Sports Illustrated), with beaded necklaces and a clenched forearm covering her bare chest. By my admittedly hasty count, Glamour’s topless covers now outpace the underboob aficionados at brother magazine GQ.
One could be angry about this insidious creep of the male gaze into women’s magazines. But not surprised: Sex sells and print media probably can’t afford to exclude whole genders much longer, even if Glamour is created and meant exclusively for women. Personally, I can’t really summon the outrage. What I’d like to know is who told Glamour how much women like topless women.
It’s not just women who sleep with women. With the Female Chauvinist Pigs–era boob jobs on the decline, a new breed of topless women is making having one’s totally average tits out seem aspirational. I didn’t envy Pamela Anderson’s nude boating trip with Tommy Lee (much), but I would like to be Kate Middleton, obviously, topless at my husband’s friend’s château in the south of France. I’d love to have the swagger to walk around Soho in a sheer bra on a hot day, à la Rihanna. I’d also like to wear the latest Marc Jacobs shorts, which have no matching top. I admire the insistently topless Lena Dunham, whose breasts (as Hannah Horvath on Girls) I think I’ve seen more than anyone’s except my own. Thanks to trolls telling her to cover up, Dunham’s made it clear that you can go shirtless and look awesome without the express purpose of attracting men or selling magazines.
With boob-flashing enterprise Girls Gone Wild gone bankrupt, is it so foolish to hope that Kate Hudson’s Glamour cover might signal the dawn of a new era of toplessness, where boobs exist not just for men’s pleasure? At the very least, I hope that the less novel and less reportable breast sightings become, the less I’ll have to suffer through inane boob songs.