Keira Knightley, Boobs and Body Image

I’ve never cared for Keira Knightley much. We all have those famous people that we just don’t “get.” She’s one of mine. Maybe it was just that awful Pride and Prejudice movie, I don’t know.

When I heard the buzz about her topless photoshoot I thought “Oh lord, here we go again. Another conventionally beautiful woman claiming to be brave for not being photoshopped/wearing makeup.” Jennifer Aniston made the rounds recently patting herself on the back for not wearing makeup in her latest film. Sure, she’s not wearing makeup, but she can afford face creams and skin treatments that cost hundreds of dollars. She has personal assistants, so she’s not run ragged like most of us. Not to mention the excellent lighting on sets.

photo by Patrick Demarchelier

photo by Patrick Demarchelier

Knightley’s topless Interview Magazine photos are different. Many people consider Knightley to be one of the most stunning women in the world. A lot of bloggers are ranting about how her photos aren’t brave or groundbreaking because she’s just another conventionally pretty white woman.

I wouldn’t call her brave either. That would imply that she felt shame about her body, which she clearly doesn’t. I would call her photos groundbreaking – or at the very least inspiring. Knightley may be conventionally beautiful, but her breasts aren’t. They aren’t the rounded shape everyone thinks of when they envision “the perfect breast.” Her breasts are lopsided, small and not well-formed.

When I looked at the photo (which you can see here), I felt liberated. Her breasts look just like mine. I try not to get into the “I have to look like a model” headspace, but I’ve always been insecure about my breasts – I think most women are, no matter what they look like. Breasts are such a symbol of femininity. You feel a little bit less of a woman if you don’t have those perfectly rounded mounds.

To dismiss her photos merely because she’s beautiful is to discount their real meaning – her body isn’t conventionally perfect, but she’s still beautiful and powerful. What she’s telling other women, and all of society, is that none of us are conventionally perfect, but that doesn’t diminish our value or our beauty and it shouldn’t damage our sense of self.



  1. I agree so much. I’m fine with having small breasts, but I’m not fine with being surrounded by images that privilege one body type over another. I’m not fine with the way women’s fashion is designed with the assumption that, in the perfect female figure (and we’re all expected to be perfect), the chest extends further than the stomach. When it’s this difficult to buy tops that flatter your figure (I’m not into dresses, but if I were, I imagine they’d be tricky too), it’s hard not to absorb the message that your whole body is wrong.

    To some extent I’ve copped out by dressing tomboyishly to relax and getting around it with structured stuff like waistcoats and jackets for work – I mean, I naturally like those things, but it’s uncomfortable to realise the extent to which my clothing choices are based on the awareness of how socially accepted it is for people to judge women by our bodies…

    Anyway, I really like that Keira Knightley has started this conversation.

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