Usually it's people complaining that art shows too much skin and trying to bring more censorship into the picture. But there's a been a refreshing—if somewhat ridiculous—reversal at one Brooklyn cafe. The Tea Lounge, which is in the very child-friendly neighborhood of Park Slope, attempted to make itself less offensive to the kids in the neighborhood by covering up the nipples on a series of nude paintings that were on display in the coffee shop. But the mothers who frequent the coffee shop with their kids—and often breastfeed openly while there—cried foul.
Charlotte Wright, a mom who comes in with her toddler son, said, "It's absolutely ridiculous because this is such a liberal hangout, and there are so many breast-feeding mothers in here. It's sending out the wrong message, that the female form is somehow shameful." Another customer, Melissa Gray, made the excellent point that covering them up won't spare the children from seeing boobs: "It's kind of paradoxical that you can't have painted breasts when there are real breasts on display here all the time." True enough!
It turns out the whole thing was a bit of a misunderstanding. Jonathan Spiel, the owner, said he's "as liberal as they come" and had simply asked the artist, David Mitchell Aronson, to make sure there wasn't anything "which a little kid might ask his mom about." His instruction was mostly meant to apply to photos, but things got garbled in translation, and Aronson ended up blocking out the nipples on the paintings. But he was careful to note, "Some of the subjects are male, so, in the interests of equality, I hid their nipples too." Perfect.
In the end, the nipple ban was lifted and now the whole place is filled with naked breasts, of both the real and painted variety. That will not be good news for one of their customers, a 50-year-old nanny named Sharon Burnett, who said of the nipple censorship, "I think it's a good idea. Some parts of a woman should be kept private." Oh well, you can't please everybody all the time.
Cafe's Modesty Is Offensive to Some [Wall Street Journal]
Image via minahensem/Shutterstock.