In Depth

Emma Watson's topless controversy: What's it all about?

Actor 'quietly stunned' by reaction to Vanity Fair photoshoot showing her baring her breasts

A Vanity Fair photoshoot featuring actor Emma Watson has stirred up controversy over what it means to be a feminist. 

The actor, soon to appear in Disney's updated Beauty and the Beast, features on the cover of the magazine's March issue and in a series of photographs inside.

However, an image taken by British fashion photographer Tim Walker, showing Watson in a crochet bolero top that partly reveals her breasts, has divided her fans.

While some on Twitter called it "brave", others suggested it was "hypocritical" given Watson's feminist stance.

TalkRadio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer, who is also a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, suggested the Harry Potter star had undermined her feminist credentials.

Sarah Baxter in the Sunday Times also claimed Watson had "blown all her hard-won 'credibility' by posing nearly topless in the new issue of Vanity Fair".

She added: "Earth to Emma: we know it’s hard to grow up in the public eye with a rumoured £55m fortune but it's best to spare us the lectures about 'gender equality' if you're going topless."

Nevertheless, there were arguments that the photo was not incompatible with speaking out on women's rights, with commentators questioning whether there was a "dress code" for feminism.

Watson said the debate had revealed "how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is", leaving her "quietly stunned".

She said: "Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality. I really don't know what my tits have to do with it. It's very confusing."

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