When Miley Cyrus was asked about the picture of herself clutching a satin sheet to her chest that Annie Leibovitz has taken for the current issue of Vanity Fair, she said it looked “pretty and natural” and that she thought it was “really artsy”. If by this she meant artistic, rather than artsy-fartsy, she was right on the money. In western art most of the women portrayed semi-clad or totally nude are children. Their nipples are pallid and undeveloped, their breasts hard and veinless, their pubes unfurred. When Lucian Freud paints girl children, nobody cares; when Leibovitz photographs them, everyone goes ballistic. When Botticelli paints the yet-to-be-enjoyed goddess of love emerging from the sea, people come from all over the world to gape at her. The Greeks and Romans liked their goddesses meaty; our preferred Venuses are children. Hardy perennials such as Diane de Poitiers held their sway as long as they did because their bodies never matured.
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