Where the women are

Vanity Fair hit the stands screaming "Naked Girls!" this month with its annual "Hollywood" issue. Where past Hollywood issues focused on things like portraits of dynasty-level families in the film business, this year's reigns have been handed over to designer Tom Ford and his vision of naked, waxy mannequin actresses.

Over at Salon.com, Rebecca Traister has written a detailed piece deconstructing each of the disturbing images in the issue, appropriately titled "Topless bodies found in brainless magazine." An excerpt:
Aside from himself, what has Ford chosen to feature in his vision of Hollywood? By the numbers: Seventeen women (average age 31) and 19 men (average age 34). There are 16 visible female nipples (erect or exposed) to 17 recognizable female faces. Only five of the women are over 30, and two of them -- 75-year-old Van Doren and 38-year-old Pamela Anderson -- are honored not for their talents, exactly, but for their identities as "The Breast Friends." There are three female ass-cracks, one naked headless woman (in a photo of "Shopgirl" star Jason Schwartzman), two manicured female feet (for Viggo Mortensen to tickle), one pair of shapely female legs (upside down, for Topher Grace to maneuver as if he might at any moment spread them and dive) and one giant Dada-ist breast on a golf course in front of a featured plastic surgeon.

There's much to be said about the appeal of a well-placed arm, leg, breast. But extremities tend to be more compelling when attached to, say, a body. Ford is not celebrating the female form: He's hacking it apart and selling off the parts to male stars in need of girl-flesh to gussy up their own boring images. (For more on the use of disembodied lady parts as sales devices, see Women's Studies 101 chestnut "Killing Us Softly.")

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