Chelsea's Latest Controversial Instagram

by Maitri Suhas

Chelsea Handler is at it again — but, really, did she ever stop? The late-night TV host is in Israel for a fundraiser, and she took her #FreeTheNipple advocacy along with her. On Thursday, Chelsea Handler posted a topless photo on her Instagram of herself riding a camel while wearing pasties in the likeness of the Israeli flag over her nipples. The caption reads:

A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel. And we say we can't live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. And, You don't even have to be topless. L'chaim.

The line between a stunt and a statement is being blurred here — sure, it was clearly a stunt tomake a statement, but what exactly was she trying to call attention to?

Personally, I feel her claim to be on a mission to bring peace to the Middle East seems watery at best. She's been notoriously trying to Free The Nipple since October 2015 when she posted an Instagram of herself topless riding alongside an also topless Vladimir Putin, which, to be fair, was pretty hilarious. Instagram took the photo down, which enraged Handler and women everywhere for the censorship which implied that women's bodies are classified as obscene content while men's bodies are not. And that's a totally valid point. She posted another topless photo as a promo image for her special Uganda Be Kidding Me in defiance of Instagram's policies.

Mike Windle/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Since the Putin incident, Handler has been adamant about freeing the nipple, which is cool. I am down for the mission to eliminate the shame that is implied when women's bodies are censored. But there's a big leap between posting a satirical side-by-side of herself and Putin and posing on a camel topless in the Holy Land. Handler is Jewish, but does that exempt her from criticism for the post? Even though she's saying it facetiously, it's a pretty bold statement to claim that her topless camel riding represents possibly unity between two extremely dissident nations.

I do see where Handler is coming from, albeit it only slightly. She seems to be pointing out the ridiculousness of Instagram's policies rather than commenting on the situation in the Middle East. But should she be using that conflict to serve her own purposes for FreeTheNipple? I feel it ventures into the slippery slope of disrespect and offense, making light of a fraught conflict that continues to affect millions of lives.

Image: Getty Images