Over-exposed or power statement? Madonna’s breasts


madonna's breasts

Madonna’s breasts have recently had a great deal of exposure (sorry!) in the media and not to mention physically. The 56-year-old “Queen of Pop” bared all, nipples included, in a cut out corset for a recent magazine shoot.

The response was somewhat polarised. Hailed variously as a triumph for the plastic surgery industry on the one hand, and a “triumph of empowerment” for all women, whatever their age, on the other. So is this another publicity stunt or a genuine power statement?

I viewed the photos of her body parts in the way the captain of an ocean liner might look at an iceberg. With deep suspicion. This is more about her motives than the provenance of her mammary glands, although I suspect both are dubious.

I had one question. Why?Tweet this

Madonna’s breasts have been in and out of the media for years, with all the discretion of a pick pocket in a nudist colony. She has never been averse to getting her kit off to promote herself,  so is clearly experienced in all manner of breast baring situations and wardrobe mal functions. There is no doubt that she is an old and practised hand, or more appropriately practised boob, at removing her clothes.

But why would this be seen as a power statement?

Madonna has been at the top of the pop world since 1983, with a string of worldwide hit singles, which propelled her to international stardom. She has withstood numerous shifts in music taste, yet still remains current. Not forgetting she pioneered the conical bra, the least desirable fashion accessory ever to have been designed.

As a woman at the top of her industry after almost  four decades, the need to expose her breasts should surely be redundant. With not inconsiderable commercial acumen and knife-edged cunning to tap into the zeitgeist of musical and popular trends, she is still an A list pop attraction, with a net worth of $1 billion.

One wonders if her place at the pinnacle of the music industry is perhaps being threatened by junior arrivistes such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and others? Could this be part of some pre-nudity insecurity?

Role Model

 Some lines of thought are telling us women of a certain age, that we should be grateful to have such a strong role model willing to overturn ageist and “lookist” stereotypes about women’s bodies and their age. But suggesting that if by draping yourself seductively across a sofa wearing suspenders you create a powerful statement, is like saying by standing in a garage you create a car. Especially when some of the get-ups hover uncertainly been a dress-up costume and bondage gear.

But this allows her, so her advocates claim, to control the way her image is portrayed.

Now that is perhaps one element that rings true.Tweet this


With her billion dollar fortune she is no stranger to the knife or needle. She must have clocked more hours in a hairdressers chair or beauty salon to have more makeovers than most of us have had hot dinners. I’m sure personal trainers, make-up artists and macrobiotic dieticians all feature heavily in her calendar.

That is not forgetting the non-invasive face lift, a.k.a. photo shop.Tweet this

Madonna without make-up

Madonna au naturel

Her claim of empowerment would resonate a lot more strongly, if her body seemed, shall we say, less artificially calibrated to a stereotyped artificial notion of perfection.

There are twenty somethings that would be impressed by a body such as hers.

Once again it shows a desperate need for women to strive for a body that is not naturally attainable for the average woman in the street….. of any age.

This is not to say that I have anything against body parts being photographed per se. Nor am I against the “if you’ve got it use it” philosophy.  It is just all getting a bit old.  Metaphorically speaking. I would have a great deal more respect for her if she was simply  naked au naturel.

But who would want to look at those photos? Exactly. Almost no one.Tweet this

If I was indeed going to cite women of a certain age baring all with bravery,  it would  not be a billionaire rock star with her legions of support staff, but the Calendar Girls. Wearing only pearls and their smiles at least they stripped off for charity.


My verdict

My major concern that this is an endorsement from someone who should know better. The promotion of false body image  causes young women and girls to pursue what is for them the unachievable. This fuels the vicious cycle of psychological and physical disorders related to distorted body image which are so prevalent in our culture today impacting girls as young as nine who go on diets and think they are fat.


What do you think?


3Plus, Stages of Life
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Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.


  • Leslie Williams says:

    Great post, Dorothy! If one sees empowerment as the ability to make one’s own choices, then OK – I guess for her, it’s an empowering move. But I believe that, as a popular cultural icon, she has some responsibility to do right by the culture that has anointed her as someone to look to. In this regard I think she’s failed. Her message is that her “power” continues to be rooted in the continued quality and marketability of her body parts. I can’t think of a less empowering stance than that.

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