Why the editor of Closer should get her tits out

Laurence Pieau thinks that the topless shots of the Duchess of Cambridge are "full of joy" and "not degrading". I won't believe it until I see her nipples.

I've only got three words for Laurence Pieau: get 'em out.

The editor of French Closer magazine, which published topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, has defended her decision by saying: "One shouldn't dramatise these pictures. The reactions are a little disproportionate." 

She added that the couple were "visible from the street", omitting to mention ". . . if you have a telephoto lens the size of a cannon".  

Warming to her theme, she continued: "She is a young woman who is topless, just like women who can be seen on beaches all over France and the rest of the world. They are pictures which are full of joy. They are not degrading."

Now, a more cynical sort than me might say that this is insufferable hypocrisy. I'd rather see some drooling bloke in a raincoat rubbing his thighs over the pictures than a professional woman pretending that, actually, they are, like, really empowering and a celebration of femininity, yeah?

If you think some blurry topless photos are "full of joy", Laurence Pieau, let me introduce you to the internet: it's ecstatic. There are so many breasts out there you could make looking at them at a full-time job. You'd have to retire at 67, nipple-blind but still not done.

These photos are not about a woman "like any other on the beach". And even if they were, that's still weird. Imagine if Closer announced that from now on, it was going to publish a photo of one random topless woman on its front page every week. Oh, the photos would be taken on a public beach - so legally the subjects would have less right to privacy than the Duchess. But they would have no idea that the photos had been taken until they strolled past their newsagent.

There would be pandemonium. I doubt they'd get a second issue out. 

Perhaps then we'd realise that watching a naked woman from half a mile away without her knowledge is not any less creepy if you happen to have a camera in your hand. 

The only reason that so many of us are so relaxed about invasions of privacy is that no one wants to invade ours. 

Of course, there is one way that Laurence Pieau can prove she really thinks the reaction is over-dramatic. Go on, Laurence: hire yourself a photographer, a balcony and take off your bra. Let's see you in all your un-Photoshopped glory, "feeling the caress of the Provencal sun" or whatever the crappy soft-porn copy was that you commissioned.

Then, and only then, will I believe you when you say that there's no big deal about a topless woman. That publishing those photos was not a calculated, yet casual, humiliation of a woman to flog a few magazines. That you don't believe people would think less of you if they saw your breasts. That privacy is over-rated.

Put the microphone down, Laurence, and step away from your Twitter account. You don't need to give any more interviews: let your nipples do the talking. 

Laurence Pieau, editor the French edition of Closer magazine.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Photo: Getty Images
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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.