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What is it about Latin American countries and the Blessed Virgin? First there was the Mexican Playboy featuring a sexy Mary on the cover. And now, according to Reuters, fashion designer Ricardo Oyarzun has “sparked outrage in Chile by dressing up models like the Virgin Mary — in some cases with ample, near-naked breasts.”
The designer defends his show:

“There is no pornography here, there’s no sex, there are no virgins menstruating or feeling each other up,” Oyarzun said ahead of the catwalk show set to be held at a Santiago nightclub later on Thursday. “This is artistic expression.”

On the other hand, a local Episcopal Conference condemned the show, but, interestingly, without ever using the word “sex”:

“We look on with special pain and deplore those acts which seek to tarnish manifestations of sincere love toward the Virgin Mary, which end up striking at the dignity of womankind by presenting her as an object of consumption,” Chile’s Episcopal Conference, which includes Catholic bishops, said in a statement.

Sexualizing the Virgin Mary seems to be the artistic expression du jour, but be warned, as in Oyarzun’s case, you may be the target of threatening phone calls and have your doorstep smeared with excrement. It is obviously not the most modest presentation of the Virgin Mary, and done in service of fashion, perhaps the intentions are less reverential than religious art and iconography. Still…


Without overthinking the role of nudity in art and whether that applies to fashion runway models as equally as it did in medieval or Renaissance times, and perhaps just for the sake of discussion, I wonder if every artistic depiction of breasts or any other kind of nudity is necessarily a “tarnishing of sincere love” and a “strike at the dignity of womankind by presenting her as an object of consumption.” Is the problem the nudity or the framing of a busty Virgin?

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