What a bunch of boobs

Police in Virginia Beach recently confiscated two posters from an Abercrombie & Fitch outlet and charged the store’s manager with an obscenity citation. A city ordinance makes it a crime to “display for commercial purposes in a manner whereby juveniles may examine or peruse” a picture “which depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to juveniles.”

Here is the first photograph.

After the story received national attention from the Drudge Report, the city said it would drop the charges.

I think we can chalk the whole thing up to one big misunderstanding. “Nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse” is in the eye of the beholder. When I see this photograph I don’t think Foursome in the grass and it’s time to go home. I see a world of nonsexual interpretations that the Virginia Beach cops obviously missed.

1. The Old Swimmin’ Hole

“It’s pretty hot today. What do you say we all head down to the old swimmin’ hole?”

“Great. But we didn’t bring our swim trunks.”

“It’s OK. We can skinny dip. We are all blind people.”

Why does everyone assume the people in this photograph have vision? I accuse the Virginia Beach police of bigotry against the blind.

2. A Friend In Need

“Rick stole our belts while we were napping in the grass!”

“Aw, man.”

“Let’s hope he’s not using them to hang himself. Better run!”

Why does everyone assume these people are not on their way to stop a suicide? I accuse the Virginia Beach police of not knowing when a life is at stake.

3. Southern Gentlemen

“Jan, you walk in back. That way none of us will see you undressed.”

“You guys don’t have to do that. I’m not embarrassed.”

“No, no, Jan. It is what gentlemen do. You walk in back and we’ll follow Ass Crack McGee up there.”

“You guys! My pants are so slippy.”


If the woman was truly being objectified she would be in front, where the men could see her, and not behind Ass Crack McGee. I accuse the Virginia Beach police of failing to stay in touch with their genteel southern roots.

4. Save The Farm

“No one can ever tall Pa we sold our shirts and underwear to pay the mortgage on the farm.”

“But why, Bill?”

“Because that’s what kin do!!!”

Has anyone considered the fact that their shirts and underwear may have been transacted to a greedy banker?

I accuse the Virginia Beach police of not being a friend to the working farmer.

5. Invisible Puppies

“My pants are being pulled down by invisible puppies.”

“Me, too.”

“Me, too.”

Has anyone considered the possibility of invisible puppies? I accuse the Virginia Beach police of not having a childlike imagination.

Here is the second controversial photograph.

Again, I think the whole thing is a big misunderstanding. This woman is clearly in trouble.

We’re going to get help!

“Oh, no! A madman has sliced off Jan’s head just as she got out of the shower! She’s holding it up with one arm. Keep your arm right there, Jan, in that exact place and don’t move it one inch. We’re going to get help.”

My point is this – the cops who enforced the city law really had to want to see nudity. Those posters have been hanging in hundreds of stores across the country for weeks, and I bet hardly anyone noticed. It’s Abercrombie & Fitch. It pulls marketing stunts all the time. It’s the drunk 22-year-old girlfriend of retail clothing.

The only good being done here – and yes, I’ll call it good – is the reintroduction into the national consciousness of side boob.

Side boob has been with us for years, but it pushed its way out of the shirt of irrelevancy last year thanks to Lindsay Lohan’s chemical-fueled wardrobe choices. Here’s an entire Web site dedicated to side boob. (Warning – the site has explicit ads!) Lohan has 13 side boob entries. She’s the only celeb in double digits. She is the LeBron James of side boob.

I have long tracked the side boob, purely as a First Amendment issue.

Yes, I am the greatest American alive.

No one has ever explained this properly. Why is it OK to see side boob, and top boob, and under boob, but not front boob? Why is every part of the boob acceptable in public and on TV except for one part? Why must we censor the boob?

Is it in bad taste to show front boob in public? In many, many cases – probably most cases – it is in bad taste. It’s nothing I personally need to see when buying a sweater. The real question is – should front boob be illegal? Until I hear an excellent explanation on why side boob is acceptable in public and front boob is not, I am forced to conclude that the front boob isn’t getting a fair shake.

(I have lived my whole life waiting to write a sentence like that.)

We live in a world that has gatekeepers to the boob – gatekeepers such as the city of Virginia Beach.

Virginia really is for lovers.

To protect and to serve – the boob.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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