The portrayal of women in the media is disgusting. There’s no two ways about it. Kate Middleton is another victim in a world where money is all that matters. Recent images published by French magazine Closer, reflect society’s obscene obsession with the female body and everything it has to offer. Tabloid newspapers and gossip magazines all over the world love half naked, unflattering photos of celebrities. They argue that showing the public, particularly women, the ‘true’ person behind the fame, sends out a positive message “Look! They have cellulite too! OMG! Her curves!” Of course, this is rubbish. There are no positives that come from these magazines. What these magazines are actually doing is humiliating women in the spotlight and sending out a message that being too thin or too fat or a woman is repulsive. These magazines teach women to hate their own bodies, laugh at other women because of their bodies, and reinforce the degrading stereotype that the only asset going for women is their body.
Italian magazine Chi, owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is also releasing the photos of Kate Middleton. They are already widely accessible on the Internet and have been printed in France and Ireland. 26 pages in the Italian magazine will be dedicated to these photos, 26 pages of one of the most famous women on the planet. If any media publication printed 26 pages of any story, the world would change. If gossip magazines printed 26 pages dedicated to why it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are, women would see themselves very differently, maybe even be happy with who they are and how they look without changing anything.
The other issue that has arisen from the photos is freedom of the press versus freedom of privacy. On one hand, why can’t these magazines print what they want of who they want? We live in a world where you are filmed, watched and recorded all the time. Where being a celebrity, making money from the media, means the media has access to all elements of your life, including privacy. On the other, everyone, regardless of whether you are a Royal or not, has a right to a private life, free from the worries of having your body displayed for everyone to see in glossy pages. The publications who have printed the pictures have argued that if the Duchess of Cambridge didn’t want these pictures being taken, she should not be sunbathing topless on private property. This logic, when applied to other day to day activities, seems stupid. It also suggests that she deserves this treatment more than others because she is one of the most famous women on Earth. This strips the media down to its lowest levels. There is no care for the feelings or reputations of humiliated celebrities and their families, so long as their upset is making money, the photos will always be printed. It also completely devalues the image of women, the argument that being beautiful means having to display your body because people want to see it, again strengthens the backwards idea that women are objects on exhibition.
The British printing industry has said it will respect the Royal’s right to privacy. Except, in what other circumstance does this happen for anyone else? Why does this respect for privacy not apply to other high profile celebrities? Those who have printed the images have done so because they are not treating Kate Middleton any differently than they would with anyone else. Those who haven’t printed the images have done so because they fear the consequences they will face if they do. If it were anyone else, the pictures would most likely be in every tabloid newspaper and gossip magazine.
I think now is a good opportunity to look again at the tabloid industry and the role it has in the portrayal of women in society, and the role it has in protecting privacy. Tabloids should dedicate 26 pages to representing women, not their bodies. Kate Middleton should not have to look over her shoulder in fear that she will be exploited by the media. The press should respect freedom of privacy to all members of society. The year is 2012, not 1984.
By Soila Apparicio