Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Shock horror: nude supermodel has dimple on thigh

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Wednesday, 6 January 2010

In a move labelled daring and revolutionary, this month’s edition of Marie Claire features nude photos of Australian model Jennifer Hawkins air-brush free. The shoot reveals “brave” Jen with all her flaws.

And what exactly are these impediments?

A tiny crease in Hawkins's waist, a slightly dimpled thigh and “uneven skin tones”.


Quelle horreur.

As if this isn’t enough, Hawkins notes an additional flaw: her hips.

She has them.

Miss Universe 2004 is really the Elephant Woman.

According to Marie Claire editor Jackie Frank, the Hawkins images were inspired by a survey of 5,500 readers that found only 12 per cent of women were happy with their bodies.

That’s right, nude pics of a woman considered one of the world’s rarest beauties are supposed to cheer the rest of us up.


The pictures will be auctioned this month with proceeds going to eating disorders support group the Butterfly Foundation.

That Hawkins - lined up against contenders in a global competition judging women purely on their looks and chosen as “hottest” of all - has been enlisted in the cause of girls who hate their bodies and are, in many ways, victims of the dominant ideal of female beauty kind of messes with my head.

How can these pictures possibly help women feel good about themselves?

Labelling hips, a little dimpling on the thigh (anyone got a magnifying glass?), a small waist crease (which looks like what happens when any woman sits down) and supposedly uneven skin tone as “flaws” is already problematic. Who decided these were flaws and not part of being a woman? And if these are “flaws” then how are other women supposed to feel?

And what about all the other “flaws” she will accrue if she has kids and when she ages? Hawkins is only 26.

The problem is the emphasis on the physical body over any other qualities a woman might possess. And a freak-of-nature body which gets 24-hour a day attention and the best of care to earn its owner an income. Most women will never have a body like this.

Why would an editor and an organisation concerned about body image choose a Miss Universe title holder as the pin up for the love-yourself-just-as-you-are campaign?

The images attract comparisons, judgment, and provide more opportunity for objectification.

They have already prompted a rash of emails from self-appointed male judges who said Hawkins was pear shaped, that her bum was unappealing, that her breasts were too small that she should have kept her clothes on.

More worrying, the images have prompted women to compare themselves with Hawkins.

“she wants to make woman feel more comfortable about how they look , gee thanks I now feel worse ! im a size 10 and I still have more rolls than her!” wrote one. [Text as per original email.]

Another woman, in a reference to bulimia, posted:

“If anything is going to have me running to the toilet with my finger down my throat it's a picture of Jennifer Hawkins naked.”

And who exactly is going to bid for the photos, you wonder.

Perhaps the Melbourne man who posted this comment on the Herald Sun website? “*pant pant pant* OF COURSE Jen should've stripped, what a silly question to ask!”

Or “Kit Walker of Geelong” who asked: “Where and how many of these magazines can I get!!!”

Or maybe “Bill of Blackburn South” who wrote: “I wish i had a girlfriend with "flaws" like Jennifer Hawkins!”


Or perhaps the charming “Darren of South Morang” who referred to his imminent Hawkins inspired sexual arousal: “It's likely to have a very positive effect on my body, that's for sure.”

The whole PC beauty shift is for so many just a hilarious bit of theatre. But there is nothing amusing in mocking or encouraging women's anxieties - anxieties which cause untold misery and suffering to so many women.

And the hypocrisy is everywhere, rising up to hit you in your flawed face.

In the same newspaper promoting Jen “flaws and all” in the banner headline on its front page (The Sunday Telegraph, January 3) were three full pages of “Best bikini bodies: How 10 celebs got the perfect figure”. And who is featured there? Jennifer Hawkins for “best overall body”.

It reads “OUR former Miss Universe easily has one of the most-envied bikini bodies in the world,” and quotes Hawkins who gives dietary advice on how to “get a bikini body quickly”. (Other celebs are given accolades for “Best bottom”, “Best post-baby body”, “Best tummy”, “Best thighs”, “Best boobs and abs” and so on.)

Women are expected to believe that enlightened advances are being made in this quite monotonous and unimaginative regime.

This has been identified elsewhere in regard to the tobacco and alcohol industries as air cover: giving the appearance of social responsibility while really not doing much at all.

Marie Claire and Jennifer Hawkins and her flaws which aren’t really, will do nothing to lessen body dissatisfaction. Because it’s not really about celebrating a diversity of women’s bodies, as advertisers in the magazines spruiking body improvement products well know.

If Frank and fellow editors are serious about the body image problems their magazines have helped create in the first place, will we see less airbrushing, less attention to the “thin, hot, sexy” cult and more real women, rather than insulting and meaningless token gestures?

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

This is a longer version of an article first published in The Australian on January 5, 2009.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

49 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation ( Melinda blogs at

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Melinda Tankard Reist

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Melinda Tankard Reist
Article Tools
Comment 49 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy