Navel wars
August 25, 2007 1:50 AM   Subscribe

Why was showing an exposed female navel considered so taboo in Hollywood films and television shows (and I suppose in culture-in-general), especially in light that cleavage was allowed?

I reference not only the infamous Annette Funicello/Beach movies, but Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeanie in the mid to late '60s, and I know there was some hullabaloo about refusing to allow an exposed navel on one of the original Star Trek shows in the same time frame.
posted by edgeways to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Allegedly the Hays Code which censored Hollywood forbade the navel, though I can't see any explicit reference to the navel in it. I suspect it was just an arbritrary line that was drawn at some point and became customary.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:18 AM on August 25, 2007

I seem to recall an article saying that Mr Hays liked to thing of Mrs Hays'navel as a perfectly logical place to put some erectile part of Mr Hays' body.

Hence the taboo.
posted by Baud at 4:59 AM on August 25, 2007

The association of the navel with the erotic goes back to ancient Greece, according to this article.

"...For the ancient Greeks passion centered on the navel, or omphalos; Omphale was the mythical queen who so powerfully personified femininity that she enslaved even the mighty Hercules..."

Just an idea. Not sure that Hays or anyone else in media would have been aware of that particular connection, but the underlying navel=female sexuality link may have persisted in Western culture on some level.
posted by pants at 5:43 AM on August 25, 2007

Well, if you think about the fashions back then, it was much more difficult to actually expose your navel - pants and skirts button at or above the bellybutton. Thus, to expose it, you'd have to have your pants half unbuttoned, and that's obviously not okay. Of course, that's not the case for bikinis or genie outfits.
posted by fermezporte at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2007

Films, television shows, and comic strips: Beetle Bailey's Belly-Button Box
posted by Guy Smiley at 10:19 AM on August 25, 2007

Because twisted a certain way, many belly buttons can resemble s sexually aroused vulva?
posted by meehawl at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2007

« Older Give me back my identity!   |   Appliance bargains in Melbourne Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.