Newspaper readers all over the country maybe have gotten a little more flesh with their morning coffee on Wednesday than they’re typically used to.
The New York Times’ front page featured a large photo showing a woman’s areola as part of a story about Israeli women dealing with the struggles of breast cancer.
The photo, taken by the Times’ Rina Castelnuovo, shows a 28-year-old Israeli woman who discovered a large lump in her left breast last year. She has a tattoo of the Star of David on her left collarbone. The photo does not show her face.
“Years earlier, her mother’s half-sister, who lives in Canada, tested positive for a genetic mutation that increases cancer risk and then warned her Israeli relatives,” the caption reads.
Slate magazine’s Amanda Marcotte writes about the photo choice: “It’s grossly inappropriate to sexualize breast cancer, which is a serious and deadly disease. It’s not just the nipple that sexualizes this picture. It’s the lighting and the tank top and the pose, which is reminiscent of a strip tease shot.”
Ms. Castelnuovo told New York Magazine that she didn’t mean the photo to be provocative.
“It was an unplanned moment,” she said. “I was taking the young woman’s portrait and we were chatting about her cancer and the scars.”
Inclusion of the areola in the shot wasn’t intentional, she said.
“We always weigh the information an image conveys, its relevance to the story, and image quality,” assistant managing editor Michele McNally told New York Magazine. “It was scrutinized.”
“It was a beautiful photo and perfectly illustrated the story. There was some concern but that logic was persuasive,” said Chief creative officer Tom Bodkin.
According to the Times article, Israel has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, and some leading scientists in the country are advocating for a national screening campaign to test women for cancer-causing genetic mutations common among Jews.