: : : Bare Sex
Techniques of erotic body sculpting are not exactly new. Fashion has often
been seen as a kind of symbolic class war. The lower imitate the upper
(and often nowadays vice versa), fueling notoriously swift cycles of fash-
ion. But fashion does not simply code status on the body. It also augments
and hides, compresses and reshapes, teasing and directing the eye to areas
of erotic interest—at least since Renaissance Europeans shed their loose-
fitting tunics and robes (Lipovetsky 1994). Male corsets and shoulder pads
emphasize shoulder-to-waist contrasts, while tights enhance a now some-
what curious sign of virility: the “well-turned calf.” And the codpiece, obvi-
ously not simply a convenient waist wallet, “covers” a part of the body only
to draw attention to it. In female fashion, despite a dizzying pace of shift-
ing hemlines and necklines over the past 600 years, there has been at least
one near constant: the use of undergarments to lift and project the breast
(Kunzle 1981; Marwick 1988).
In the Medieval period, the breast referred almost exclusively to its “au-
gust Maternal function,” and images of the nursing infant Jesus showed a
small, mostly concealed breast in somber settings (Hollander 1993: 187–
89). Anne Hollander dates the break from this tradition with a single paint-
ing: Jean Fouquet’s Madonna and Child (c. 1450). The Virgin Mary now holds
the infant at some distance from her, giving the viewer an unobstructed
view of what is clearly the center of the painting: a large, white luminescent
globe that seems to leap out of its confinement in a tight bodice. Since that
period, the female breast has become a primary site in struggles to define
female nature and sexuality. Fashion has molded and displayed the erotic
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