Why you’ll never see a naked man chest on my book covers

I’ve noticed a trend lately in romance covers: naked man chest.

I had assumed this was limited to self-published romance authors who were tasked with coming up with their own cover designs, but now I’m not so sure, as I see romance novels on bestseller lists with these covers.

What type of covers am I talking about? Here are a few examples from some of those ‘buy a premade book cover here’ websites:

Naked Man Chest #1 Naked Man Chest #2 Naked Man Chest #3

This is the type of thing you’ll never see on one of my book covers.


Yes, they’re sexy. And sex sells. We know that. If you’ve ever looked at any of the most popular sales campaigns in the past 40-50 years, you can see the influence of sex and how successful some of those ad campaigns have been.

But here’s the thing: this type of cover is objectifying.

As a woman who is vehemently against the objectification of women – using scantily-clad women to sell everything from cars to motorcycles to beverages – I can’t be against the objectification of women, but in favor of objectifying men. It just doesn’t work that way.

If I’m against the idea of looking at women as flesh to desire, without regard for the personalities, desires, and personhood of the women inside the flesh – I can’t be OK with doing that to men. It would make me a huge hypocrite.

There are plenty of ways to convey ‘sexy’ without showing naked man chest (or at least without making it the main feature of the image). Here are a few examples of book covers that say steamy/sexy without showing a well-built set of abs:

Sexy Book Cover

If you see any of those book covers, you can infer that you’re about to read a sexy, steamy story – without exploiting naked man chest.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against a steamy novel at all. What I am against is exploitation, or using imagery of one gender that I would not be OK with doing w/the other gender. This is one way in which equality in media is lagging way behind, and I don’t want to be a writer who does even more to damage it.

By Renee Darcy

Renee Darcy has been a professional writer for more than a decade, but America’s Favorite Couple is her first romance novel. Her chosen nom de plume honors her family history and her favorite literary work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs in beautiful New England. Reality TV shows are a guilty pleasure, and the inspiration behind her new romance book series – Reality TV Romance.

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