Why was Cersei Lannister's body flawless after being locked in a dungeon?


Cersei Lannister’s naked walk of shame on the Game of Thrones finale was gut-wrenching to watch. But as striking as it was to see the Queen Mother bare among the clothed masses, it was equally striking that her body appeared perfectly tanned, toned, and without a blemish—an artistic choice that, frankly, distracted from the power of the scene.

Related: Why the breasts on Game of Thrones all look the same

After spending time in a Medieval prison (a dungeon, if you will)—with no food, water licked from the floor, the occasional beating, and little-to-no light—one would expect Cersei to emerge broken and withered. Not with Kate Upton boobs and a Hayden Panettiere glow, despite an unflattering hair cut and a little fake blood.

I recently lamented that the breasts on Game of Thrones all look exactly the same, and when Cersei first appeared nude on screen, for a split second I thought, A-ha! A deviation! And indeed, the character’s boobs differ slightly in size and shape from the usual Thrones breasts.

But then I realized that, alas—instead of appearing more realistic, they’re just perfect in a different way. And definitely not reflective of boobs that have been attached to a woman locked away in a dank, dark, torture chamber, after having been suckled by at least three children. Apparently, stretch marks weren’t invented yet.

(It’s worth noting that HBO confirmed to Fusion that the actress, Lena Headey, used a body double for the scene—which helps explain why a 41-year-old who had just been starved and immobilized in prison looks more like a 27-year-old who just got out of yoga class.)

While Cersei’s walk should have made me shudder, I shuddered more that HBO tried to insert a sliver of sex appeal into an otherwise disturbing scene. Was the show hoping viewers would enjoy watching a women stripped and paraded around as a slut? Was casting a body double with D-cup breasts meant to entice? Was the scene really approached as an opportunity to sell sex? If so, please give me a moment while I weep for humanity. (HBO declined to comment on the scene.)

Of course, one could argue: Who cares if Cersei looks like a swimsuit model in her moment of shame? Well, remember that time Theon Greyjoy was half-naked and tortured and subsequently had his penis severed? I can’t imagine HBO sexualizing that storyline in any way, shape, or form. That would have been weird. Super, duper weird.

Just as watching a tanned, supple, smooth-skinned Cersei with perfect boobs was also weird. And yet, while Theon’s scenes still give me the heebie-jeebies, Cersei’s walk of shame, while uncomfortable, won’t leave much of a scar.

Taryn Hillin is Fusion’s love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.

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