Harriet Walker: 'Real women' keep their clothes on in public

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The Independent Online

How I long for the day when a woman's body is just something attached to her neck; when it's her own business and no one else's. Model Daisy Lowe (below) has always enjoyed a fairly smooth ride when it comes to intense and perverse physical scrutiny because she is thin (gasp!) but curvy (clap, clap, clap) and therefore embodies The Perfect Woman.

What a shame and how regressive it would be then, for her to flaunt that Perfect Body in a low-rent grotmag. What's that? She's on the cover of Playboy? Of course she is. It's worth remembering that the women whose bodies we're all suppose to try and emulate – those easy-to-come-by 18-inch waists topped with a honking great pair of double-Gs – are usually the ones that men are most interested in too.

What men don't like are catwalk models, who aren't allowed to be called by that zeitgeist-y catch-all "real women" because they're apparently not curvy enough to warrant discussion. But I think we can all agree that "real women" keep their clothes on in public – whether they have the Perfect Body or not.

Of course, Daisy can do what she wants with her bits, and if what she wants is for them to be plastered across the pages of a magazine owned by a priapic octogenarian, it's her call. She's a model – it's her métier. Aside from "getting her biff out", as one colleague terms it, Lowe is also girlfriend to Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame. He might want to think about calling himself Doctor No after he's seen these pictures.

The fading of summer brings with it the exciting drumroll of autumn telly and sumptuous new series. The first of these, The Borgias, starts tonight on Sky Atlantic. It's a rollicking tale of murder, incest and – of course – the Catholic church, with reconstructions of events such as the famous "Chestnut Orgy", when naked women scrambled on the Vatican floors for chestnuts as a Renaissance-era spectator sport. There were prizes later for the man who had the most sex with them. (The women, not the chestnuts – although I'm sure they were involved.)

Those sensual Sabines! Those Machiavellian love machines! If only current power-mongers were half as interesting, you might sigh. But it's not the Borgias' interest they lack, it's their ingenuity and reptilian efficiency. Silvio Berlusconi's bunga-bunga parties are the Chestnut Orgy directly transposed, but with underage sex-workers; German insurance company Hamburg-Mannheimer rewarded its top-sellers with a prostitute party, we found out earlier this year. Pope Alexander VI may not have observed his sacred vows of chastity, but congressman Anthony Weiner beamed pictures of his pants around the world.

Now, I don't want to live in those benighted days of ripped bodices, corruption and religious persecution. But they did do it with more panache back then, didn't they?

Economic pressures and social fractures aside, a large motivation behind this week's riots has been greed, pure and simple. We're more acquisitive now than we ever have been, because we're incapable of creating things for ourselves: we have to go and buy them instead.

Our reliance on transactions makes for an almost permanent state of being ripped off and conned – buying and selling doesn't go two ways when customer service and satisfaction are non-existent. We whinge about advertising standards, we write letters of complaint, we hate budget airlines – nothing we can buy is perceived as being worth it any more, in an age where money is scraped together with so much effort before being frittered away with none whatsoever.

So suspicious are we of being taken for fools, in a world where adverts and "special offers" for the most part assume we are, that any notion of goodwill goes out of the window. No wonder those people ran off with those plasma screens.