Tall and gorgeous fashion icon Heidi Klum will be posing nude to help promote the 2011 season of Lifetime Network's Project Runway. While the official nude photos have not yet been released, the photo shoot already took place, ensuring that they will, in fact, be included in upcoming advertising for the show. Lifetime's general manager Nancy Dubuc is hoping the images will help redefine Lifetime as a network for strong, empowered, contemporary women.
That begs the question - is a fully dressed Heidi Klum not strong, empowered or contemporary enough? Clearly the nude photos are already generating interest in the show, so it was a smart business move on Dubuc's part; however, the message seems convoluted. You've probably heard the arguments from both sides. The one side says, "Strong, empowered women embrace their bodies and throw off the chains of sexual servitude. Posing nude is a representation of this freedom." An interesting argument, to be sure. The other side says, "Strong, empowered women are able to embrace their womanhood and overcome barriers without relying on their sexuality. Even tastefully presented nude photos over-sexualize women and undermine the forward progress of women in the world." Another interesting argument.
There may not be a right or wrong answer to the question. Maybe the answer is simply that women's empowerment doesn't fit easily into a box - that some women view empowerment differently than others, and that's okay. That said, would the story be different if the individual posing nude weren't a model and TV show host? What if it was Michelle Obama, Arianna Huffington or Sandra Day O'Connor? These are strong, empowered women in their own right. How would reactions be different and what message would the varying reactions send to young women? Is it only acceptable to pose nude and "throw off chains of sexual servitude" if you're young, attractive and hold a position in the entertainment industry?
Personally, I think that Heidi Klum's business acumen and status as a hard-working wife and mother are more than enough to project confidence and power all on their own. Besides, it's a lot harder for me to critique tall women's fashion when the tall women aren't wearing clothes.