Friday, 9 October 2009

Warning: may contain nudity

The USA's weird relationship with its own body took some interesting turns this week with a couple of surprising news stories.

First up, Playboy announced its very first animated cover-star in the form of America's favourite housewife Marge Simpson. In an unusual attempt at attracting twenty-something readers, the blue-haired house-frau strikes a Christine Keeler pose on the front of the long-running tug book.

But anyone hoping to discover whether the carpets match the Smurf-cloured drapes will be sorely disappointed. Unlike her son Bart, who went full-frontal in the recent Simpsons Movie, Marge's photoshoot will only feature implied nudity.

Meanwhile, double Oscar-winner Hilary Swank has been talking to Marie Claire about her forthcoming biopic of aviatrix Amelia Earhart. In a seemingly innocuous interview, the unappealingly monikered awards-vacuum happened to mention that she's occasionally naked in front of her new partner's child.

"Well, my boyfriend's son is 6 years old, and you wonder at what age you should stop walking around nude. Every morning he comes into the bedroom, and you're just nude. But he doesn't look twice; he doesn't think about it yet."

Of course, the news media has gone to town on the subject, running countless stories questioning how appropriate all this is, with headlines like 'Hilary Swank's Nude Dilemma' and 'Hilary Swank: Six-Year-Old Sees Me Nude'. Reporting on her entirely normal behaviour, these articles make comments like "Hilary has no qualms about flashing her flesh in front of partner John Campisi's child" as though she doesn't just sleep in the nude, but entertains the kids by firing ping-pong balls across the bedroom.

Back in July, a report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) found that teenage pregnancies and syphilis rose sharply during George Bush's traumatic tenure, largely thanks to W's insistence on evangelically informed abstinence programmes.

With schools telling the kids to leave their unmentionables alone, it falls to parents to give young people a pragmatic and realistic education into how their bodies work. But given the reaction to Hilary's entirely innocent admission, I imagine the only people likely to be celebrating will be the staff at babyGap.

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