Serpent's Egg

The Eroticism of Fat Men

Cheltenham 2016: Why women at Ladies Day should be able to flash their nipples without shame

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Jessica Hayes and Katie Salmon at the races

Reality TV star Jessica Hayes and glamour model Katie Salmon spent yesterday in the VIP box at Cheltenham Festival for Ladies’ Day. In their glam dresses and heels, they sipped champagne, smoked cigarettes, showed off their lip piercings and – wait for it – flashed their nipples to the press.

The reaction has been typical. The two women have been called everything from ‘hideous drunken slatterns’ to ‘cheap common whores’ and ‘a couple of dogs’. Photographs of them puffing on cigarettes whilst pulling their dresses down have been plastered all over the internet and people have called on them to apologise.

Jessica Hayes, famous from ITV's Love Island, flashes
Jessica Hayes, famous from ITV’s Love Island, flashes

 

Newspapers have taken issue with the fact that they seem ‘proud of what they’ve done’ instead of feeling shame. As the Mail put it: “Had these young women reacted with even the faintest hint of embarrassment, all might have been forgiven.”

But the young women refuse. Instead Hayes, 22, told the Sun: “We may have got our boobs out, but it was just for a split second and no one was offended. Everyone’s seen boobs before.” She continued on Twitter: “We all get drunk, we all have banter and make mistakes I’m the first to admit but the vile comments keep to yourself you don’t know me.”

 

Hayes is right. Why should she and Salmon, 20, have to deal with people on social media slut-shaming them – and the tabloids doing the exact same thing? As they say, it was a bit of ‘drunk banter’ and they were just ‘boobs’. Are areola really so threatening that their owners deserve to be called ‘sluts’ and ‘whore’?

The problem is that society still expects women to behave like ‘ladies’ and when they fall short, it demands an instant apology from them. Last year Country Life even published a guide for modern women on how to be ‘a lady’. Tips included owning a little black dress, knowing when to stop dyeing your hair and never having botox.

Many of the entries on the list focused on women’s looks in a way that the ‘gentleman’s’ version did not. It was plain sexist – and so is the reaction people are having to Hayes and Salmon’s nipple flashing.

 

Of course, society has its laws and if women are breaking them by displaying inappropriate public nudity or by being drunk and disorderly, then that’s a crime. An apology would not be amiss.  But if a woman is choosing to show off her own body in the way that she wants, and as Hayes says “no one was offended”, then why should she have to feel this obligatory shame?

Shame is something that has been targeted at women for centuries. We’re meant to feel guilty about the way we act, speak, dress – even the Home Secretary has been shamed this week for her ‘revealing’ choice of dress during the Budget. Often it is so deeply ingrained that we do it to ourselves.

Katie Salmon flashes her nipple while Jessica Hayes laughs
Katie Salmon flashes her nipple while Jessica Hayes laughs

 

It’s why it’s so refreshing to see Hayes and Salmon, a Page 3 model who shows her breasts off for a living, refuse to feel bad about the way they acted during Cheltenham – especially when they were targeted by the paparazzi. Because that’s exactly what happens at the races on Ladies’ Day.

Whether it’s Aintree or Ascot, paparazzi are there to take photographs of women they deem ‘trashy’ – so that means short hemlines, fake tan, lots of cleavage and accidental (or even better, deliberate) flashing. It has become so obvious that last year Aintree bosses banned photographers from taking ‘negative shots’.

The result? Instead of websites splashing on photographs shaming women for their looks, they used selfies taken by the women themselves. The female guests of the races were able to take back the ownership of the image and have control over the way they were seen.

A selfie taken by Jessica Hayes instead of a paparazzi shot

This is something that was clearly not present at Cheltenham. If the paparazzi had not been there, the women’s ‘split second’ flashing would have remained just that. Salmon’s brother Dean, 22, admitted his sister “was a bit shocked” that the image was in the public eye. “I don’t think she thought she’d be in the papers,” he said.

His words speak for themselves. British women attending the races have become fresh meat for the paparazzi to prey on – and then sell to the highest bidder. It means their ‘shameful’ actions are then plastered across the internet, leaving them open to be abused online by trolls.  The only thing they can do to make it all go away is to apologise, heads lowered, and accept the shame they deserve.

But Hayes and Salmon are refusing to say sorry. They’re breaking this sexist pattern that has come to plague all women who dare to attend British races, and for that, they should be applauded – not judged.

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2016 by and tagged , , .

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