It’s every journalist’s challenge to grab her readers’ attention at the beginning of a story. One caveat to this attempt—I won’t be baring my breasts.
The caption above Lily Kwan’s breasts, pictured on last week’s cover of The Varsity, reads “Uncovering the story.” A disturbing story, in my opinion.
The Varsity’s decision to feature Kwan’s half-naked image on its cover was unfortunate. She may feel that her role is “empowering,” but personally, I find both her picture and her job degrading.
First off, let me clarify that I’m not expressing a blanket objection to nudity in the media. There are certain messages well-delivered in the company of some skin. I don’t object to certain types of pornography, either. But there are several problems with Kwan’s nudity (I mean theoretically, not aesthetically, of course).
Kwan works for the popular website Nakednews.com. Although The Varsity refers to Naked News as an Internet porn site, it also purports to be some sort of “news” program. Women have struggled to gain credibility as journalists for years. Exposing one’s breasts is not exactly a step in the right direction. In fact, female journalists resorting to selling their sexuality instead of their wits is a disturbing trend. Earlier this year, three sports journalists (Kathryn Humphreys, Jody Vance, and Hazel Mae) posed for UMM (Urban Male Magazine) in revealing attire. Sports broadcasting is notoriously difficult for women to break into. Have these women found the ticket? I hope not.
To be fair, I visited Nakednews.com. I checked out Ms. Kwan’s bio, hoping to find out more about her powerful message “that you are female and you can do what you want.” Naked News tells me that, aside from her pumpkin-pie-baking skills, Kwan’s “exotic looks” and eagerness “to explore the unknown” make her a winner. Although Kwan told The Varsity that she’s overcoming the oppression that women of Asian culture have faced, Naked News resorts to racist and sexist exoticization of non-white women. Empowering, indeed. And The Varsity just handed over valuable free advertising to this fine organization.
But it’s not just that Naked News is a sad excuse for journalism. The picture calls The Varsity itself into question. As someone who works for this esteemed paper, I wasn’t holding my head high last Tuesday. Are Kwan’s breasts really worthy of top billing in this paper? Sure, U of T campus can be a bit dull, but if this is the most newsworthy event of the week, why even have a student paper? After all, as Kwan says, U of T students are “great…everyone is conscientious about issues such as tuition…they really do care.”
Maybe Ms. Kwan’s breasts increased readership last week. Maybe more students felt inclined to open up The Varsity and read up on campus happenings. But I say we shouldn’t resort to these types of sensational eye catchers to widen our audience. How about some quality photography and journalism instead?
Nakednews.com is offensive and demeaning. That’s the real story, and it doesn’t need a picture of Kwan’s breasts to ring true.