TIME olympics

Must-see Photos from Day 9 of the Sochi Olympics

Coaches dressed as chimpanzees, freestyle skiing, hockey and more.

Coaches dressed as chimpanzees, freestyle skiing, hockey and more.

TIME History

17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

Smooches to remember in time for Valentine's Day

  • Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

    Rodin's The Kiss
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    One of the most famous depictions of love in art, this marble statue illustrates Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, two lovers from Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Their kiss is so passionate, you would not know that they were condemned to hell after their affair. The duo was originally part of doors he designed called The Gates of Hell until 1886, “when Rodin decided that this depiction of happiness and sensuality” did not fit, sculpted a separate statue, and exhibited it in 1887, according to the Musée Rodin in Paris. A version of The Kiss was supposed to be displayed in Chicago in 1893, but the couple’s embrace was deemed too erotic for public viewing.

  • Thomas Edison’s The Kiss

    In this 1896 film, May Irwin and John Rice, actors in the New York stage comedy The Widow Jones, reenact a 19-second-long kiss from the show. Shot by Edison’s Vitascope cinema projector, it is considered to be the first movie kiss. Not everyone found it romantic, however, like painter John Sloan, who reportedly wrote, “Magnified to Gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over, it is absolutely disgusting.”

  • Hershey’s Kisses

    Hershey To Challenge Kraft Foods With Cadbury Bid
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    The tear-drop chocolates date back to 1907, and now Hershey’s plant in West Hershey, Pennsylvania, can produce up to 70 million of them a day. For Valentine’s Day, Hershey’s makes more than 8 million pounds of Hershey’s Kisses and sells more than 800 million individual Hershey’s Kisses. Over the years, the bite-sized treats have been wrapped in different colors and have been worn like a bra by “I Kissed a Girl” singer Katy Perry on the Jul. 7-21, 2011, cover of Rolling Stone.

  • V-J Day in Times Square Kiss

    VJ DAYAlfred Eisenstaedt / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images
    Alfred Eisenstaedt / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

    The caption for Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph in the August 27, 1945, issue of LIFE was “In the middle of New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.” (Read more about the photograph at LIFE.com.) In 2012, CBS News identified the sailor and nurse in the photo as George Mendonsa, a retired fisherman from Rhode Island, and Greta Friedman, and brought them together again in Times Square.

  • The Kiss of Death

    The Godfather: Part II
    Paramount

    Some kisses are far from romantic. In The Godfather Part II (1974), mob boss Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) kisses his brother Fredo (John Cazale) in Havana and reveals that he knows Fredo had betrayed him: “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.” TIME’s Richard Corliss called the scene, “one of the most powerful kisses in movies: the kiss that kills.”

  • KISS

    Kiss Album Cover Portrait Session
    Ginny Winn—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    Between the band members’ “signature makeup, explosive stage show and anthems like “Rock And Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City,” they are the very personification of rock stars,” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wrote about 2014 inductee KISS. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley started rocking out in 1972 and became one of the most popular bands of the 1970s. While Peter and Ace peeled off in the 80s, the band continued to rock out at Super Bowl XXXIII, the 2002 Winter Olympics, the American Idol finale in 2009, and even graced the cover of Playboy magazine in 1999. Still performing today, KISS claims to have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide over a 40-year career.

  • World Leaders Kiss

    Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker
    Helmuth Lohmann—AP

    In honor of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1979, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker shared a “fraternal kiss” (also once referred to as a “Kremlin kiss”) — an expression of solidarity exchanged between Eastern Bloc pols when the Soviet Union existed. There was a Dmitri Vrubel mural of this moment on the Berlin Wall captioned “God help me to survive this deadly love affair.”

  • Al and Tipper Gore Kiss

    Vice President Al Gore kisses his wife Tipper Gore
    Robert Nickelsberg—Liaison/Getty Images

    The Vice President Al Gore made headlines when he hugged his wife Tipper tightly and kissed her for three whole seconds — which felt like forever — at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 17, 2000. Back then, TIME wrote, “The sheer carnality of the kiss — the can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-the-hotel-room urgency, the sexual electricity flowing south — was riveting.” Political commenters called the kiss both a calculated attempt to humanize Gore and a statement of monogamy intended to show that he was his own man and not like his boss, Bill Clinton, who had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gore did not win the 2000 presidential election, however, and the couple separated a decade later.

  • Ray Bourque’s Stanley Cup Kiss

    Ray Bourque
    Brian Bahr—Allsport/Getty Images

    After more than 20 years in the NHL, Ray Bourque kissed and cradled the Stanley Cup for the first time on June 9, 2001, after helping the Colorado Avalanche defeat the New Jersey Devils before he retired that summer.

  • Britney and Madonna Kiss

    Britney Spears and Madonna
    John Shearer—WireImage / Getty Images

    Britney Spears and Madonna shocked the world by French-kissing — or playing “tonsil hockey,” as TIME’s Joel Stein described it — at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2003. Critics compared it to Michael Jackson smooching Lisa Marie Presley at the 1994 ceremony. The image was apparently so appalling to some people that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had to apologize for placing it on the front page of the newspaper. And viewers who saw Miley Cyrus twerk on stage at the awards a decade later will chuckle at The Los Angeles Times description of the Britney-Madonna kiss: “The fact that this yawn-worthy Madonna shock tactic became the central topic of the show’s post-mortems indicates how low the once-essential showcase has sunk.”

  • Post-Stanley Cup Riots Kiss

    Vancouver Kiss
    Rich Lam—Getty Images

    The fiery riots in Vancouver, Canada, could not subdue the fiery passion between Australian native Scott Jones and Alexandra Thomas, who were photographed making out on the ground in the middle of the street during the chaos that broke out on June 15, 2011, after the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. In the picture, taken by Getty Images photographer Rich Lam, Jones was trying to calm Thomas down after the two had been overwhelmed by the surge of police, The Toronto Star reports. Jones’s father Brett summed up the moment best on his Facebook page: “How’s that for making love, not war?”

  • World Leaders Don’t Kiss

    Benetton Ad
    Martin Bureau—AFP/Getty Images

    Presumably inspired by the Brezhnev-Honecker kiss, the clothing company United Colors of Benetton’s 2011 ad campaign for its UNHATE Foundation featured digitally manipulated images of world leaders kissing, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel locking lips with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Barack Obama with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-il with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a high-profile Egyptian imam Ahmed el-Tayeb was removed after the Vatican condemned it as “offensive” to the Pope and Catholics in general. In a statement, the company defended the campaign as “symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation.”

  • The Obamas on The Kiss Cam

    Barack and Michelle Obama are pros at posing for the cameras, yet they did not expect to appear on the “Kiss Cam” at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. during an Olympic men’s exhibition basketball game between Team USA and Brazil on July 16, 2012. The first couple did not kiss when the camera zoomed in on them during the first half of the game — which reportedly prompted boos. But when it came around in the second half, the President kissed the First Lady so passionately that NBC’s Al Roker joked, “Mr. President, get a stadium!”

  • The Fastest Runner Kiss

    Usain Bolt
    Bob Thomas—Getty Images

    World champion Jamaican runner Usain Bolt kisses the track after winning the 100m and 200m races in record times at the London Summer Games on Aug. 9, 2012–a first in Olympic history. “I am a living legend,” he told The New York Times.

  • The Longest Kiss

    World's Longest Continuous Kiss
    Pornchai Kittiwongsakul—AFP/Getty Images

    The Guinness World Record for the longest kiss is 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds, achieved by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat at a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not event in Pattaya, Thailand, between February 12-14, 2013. They won a $3,300 cash prize and two diamond rings.

  • TIME Covers of Same-Sex Couples Kisses:

    TIME Gay Marriage
    Peter Hapak for TIME

    Two Apr. 8, 2013, TIME covers featuring the line “Gay Marriage Already Won” superimposed on portraits of same-sex couples kissing instantly went viral and sparked a lively debate. Illustrating an article on the public support for gay marriage leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the magazine argued the cover images “symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage,” while commentary on The Wire argued, “that same-sex couples kissing on a magazine cover is still cause for surprise, for shock, for discussions and reactions and double takes, that it would even be a cover, means in fact we’re not quite all the way there.”

  • Speed Skaters Kiss

    Brian Snyder—Reuters

    Canadian speed skater Charles Hamelin skated over to his girlfriend, speed skater Marianne St-Gelais, and planted a big one on her while straddling the track barrier after winning a gold medal in the 1,500m short track on Feb. 10, 2014 at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The embrace was an encore of their kiss at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

TIME

A Brief History of Sex at the Olympics

New Zealand v United States
Hope Solo Stephen Lam—Getty Images

Are we really that surprised?

Tuesday the internet erupted in a wave of Sochi shock that had nothing to do with dangerous half pipes, packs of wild dogs, or atrocious hotel accommodations.

Can you believe that Olympic athletes are all using Tinder—a DATING APP—at the Olympic village? So much so that “Tinder hook-ups [are] off the hook”? This is completely unexpected. Why would the world’s best athletes, in their physical prime, with endorphins to kill and calories to burn, and who are all compressed in a small living space be so interested in this particular extracurricular activity?

Tinder-gate of Sochi 2014 is just the most recent round of faux-surprise that Olympians might, in fact, be having sex. (Because while it’s ok to allude to the deed by sexifying female athletes, the idea that anyone’s having any actual sex is a different thing completely.)

We’ve rounded up a history of how sex at Olympic village has been covered over the last few decades. And judging by the florid prose in the dispatches below, the journalists seem to be pretty overheated as well.

Sochi 2014:

The games have just begun, but it’s already the year of Tinder and talk of 100,000 condoms circulating around the Olympic Village.

London 2012:

The London Olympics probably saw the most headlines regarding athlete-on-athlete sexcapades. “Gay app Grindr crashes as Olympic athletes arrive in London,” read the Mirror. “Could London 2012 be the raunchiest games ever?” asked the Daily Mail. “Steamy London Olympics: A Condom-a-Day, Per Athlete,” wrote Businessweek of the 150,000 condoms distributed. “Who Will Win the Sex Olympics?” questioned Forbes — Durex was the right answer.

Althletes were particularly candid about their sex lives, as well. “I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open,” U.S. soccer star Hope Solo told ESPN in a long expose of Olympians’ sexual encounters. “On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”

Ryan Lochte said: “My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend — big mistake. Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited.”

We’ll reveal other athlete sex secrets exposed to ESPN as our timeline continues.

Vancouver 2010:

Snowboarder Scotty Lago, 22, went home earlier than anticipate after TMZ leaked a photo showing a fan biting on his bronze medal when it was hanging from his belt buckle. (He had no events left to compete in.)

CNN ran the headline, “Vancouver medals in condom distribution”

ESPN reported that six athletes had an orgy in a hot tub right outside the Village.

Beijing 2008:

Former Olympic table tennis player Matthew Syed wrote an article for the Times of London noting that there was a “sex fest… right here in Beijing. Olympic athletes have to display an unnatural… level of self-discipline in the build-up to big competitions. How else is this going to manifest itself than with a volcanic release of pent-up hedonism.” This led to a headlines asserting that the Olympic Village hosted “More Sex than Woodstock.”

Page Six discussed Michael Phelps “celebrated his record-breaking eight gold medals in Beijing by sneaking off for a sizzling game of tonsil hockey with one of Australia’s hottest Olympians.” (She was his girlfriend.)

Oh, and Beijing authorities distributed 400,000 condoms to more than 400 hotels in the Olympic city, said the AFP. Although other sources reported only 100,000 were provided for athletes.

Solo told ESPN in 2012 that she slept with a celebrity in Beijing, but she wouldn’t say who it was.

Salt Lake City 2002:

The conservative city hosted some protests against Olympic policies to distribute free condoms to athletes.

Sydney 2000:

Officials thought that 70,000 (rainbow) condoms would be enough. They had to send out for 20,000 more after a week.

Javelin thrower Breaux Greer told ESPN that he had relations with three women every day of the Olympics — two were other Olympians and another was a tourist. He had to leave the games due to a knee injury. But as a consolation prize, he did end up with a famous (unnamed) Olympian in the airplane bathroom on the flight back to Los Angeles.

Norway 1994:

Skier Carrie Sheinberg told ESPN that two German bobsledders “made it clear that they’d trade me their gold for all kinds of other favors. I said jokingly, ‘Thanks, but Tommy Moe has a medal. I’ll play with his.'”

Barcelona 1992:

Even though he played ping pong, Matthew Syed said he “got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than the rest of my life up to that point.”

This is when condoms began getting offered to Olympians to encourage safe sex during the games.

Seoul 1988

There were reports of so many condoms found on the roofs of Olympic residences that the Olympic Association banned outdoor sex.

TIME

Incredible Images from Day 8 of the Sochi Olympics

Moments and mishaps from Day 8 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

TIME olympics

Plushenko’s Retirement Is Proof He Should Have Quit Before Sochi

Sochi Olympics Figure Skating
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia waves to spectators after he pulled out of the men's short program figure skating competition due to illness at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Ivan Sekretarev—AP

The iconic Russian figure skater, hobbled by injuries, should have given way to a younger generation before the Sochi Olympics began

After his aborted performance on Thursday—and the subsequent announcement of his retirement—it became all too clear that Evgeni Plushenko should have passed the torch to a younger skater before the Sochi Olympics commenced. For nearly a decade, the flamboyant figure skater has dominated the sport in Russia. At the age of 31, which is right around retirement age for an Olympic figure skater, he decided to try his Olympic luck for the third time despite a recent spinal surgery. It worked out well for him on Sunday, when he won a gold medal along with nine of his teammates in Sochi as part of the team figure skating competition. But four days later, when it came time for him to perform in the men’s singles, he skated up to the judges booth after a warm-up and told them he couldn’t go on. With that, Team Russia’s chances of a gold dropped to zero in the event where it has long been dominant.

As TIME reported earlier this week, Plushenko’s back was troubling him toward the end of his solo performance at Sunday’s team event. But he and his coaches boldly decided to carry on. “There are no healthy athletes in the major leagues,” said his coach, Alexei Mishin. “Everybody hurts.” Plushenko even suggested that he might compete in the next Winter Games four years from now.

That sounded almost delusional. On the strength of his remaining talents, it had been hard for him even to make it into these Olympics. He lost a key qualifying round in December to a young upstart named Maxim Kovtun, who is 12 years younger than Plushenko and approaching his prime. But the veteran wouldn’t give up. He refused to compete in the last qualifying round for Sochi, saying that he was too busy training for the Olympics, and he used his celebrity status in Russia to help lobby for another shot. After much debate in the press, he got it.

The Russian figure skating association allowed him to dance a “control run” for a committee of skating experts less than three weeks before the Games. Although that performance was never shown to the public or the press, the committee ruled that it was enough to give Plushenko a ticket to Sochi.

That now looks to have been a mistake. The pain that began bothering him during the team event on Sunday never went away, his coach said on Thursday. Then things got worse. The day before the singles event, Plushenko took a heavy fall during training. “The pain didn’t let up in the morning,” Mishin told a Russian newspaper. “We took medication, but it didn’t help.”

Russia, which has no replacement for him in the men’s short program, is now out of that contest, which should have offered one of its best chances for another gold. And they needed it. A week into the Games, Russia has only two golds and stands in seventh place in the overall medals tally, behind Switzerland. Plushenko had a chance to turn that around, but the chances of a younger skater would clearly have been better.

TIME olympics

Americans Win All Three Medals in New Skiing Event

Silver medalist Gus Kenworthy of the United States, gold medalist Joss Christensen of the United States and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper of the United States stand on the podium during the flower ceremony after the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Finals on Feb. 13, 2014 in Sochi.
Silver medalist Gus Kenworthy of the United States, gold medalist Joss Christensen of the United States and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper of the United States stand on the podium during the flower ceremony after the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Finals on Feb. 13, 2014 in Sochi. Al Bello—Getty Images

This is the third time an American sweep has happened in the history of the winter Olympic games.

Americans took home the gold, silver, and bronze medal in the inaugural men’s skiing slopestyle competition at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Thursday.

Joss Christensen, a 22-year-old from Park City, Utah, might have only been a discretionary pick for the U.S. team, but he finished the event, sliding from rails and catapulting from ramps, with the best time and a gold medal.

He had a score of 95.80 followed by Gus Kenworthy at 93.60 and Nick Goepper at 92.40.

“I am shocked,” Christensen said after his win, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I am stoked to be up here with my friends. America, we did it.”

This is only the third time Americans have ever swept a Winter Games event.

More: Meet The Athletes of Team U.S.A.

TIME russia

Russia Cancels Homework So Kids Can Watch the Olympics

Children wait for the start of the final run during the men's doubles luge at the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Children wait for the start of the final run during the men's doubles luge at the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Natacha Pisarenko—AP

The Sochi Olympics have enlivened Russian national pride—and authorities are cutting back on homework for kids to keep the euphoria going

The Russian constitution does not actually grant parliament the right to assign homework to every kid in the land. But during the Olympics, the chamber seems to have vested itself with those powers. On Wednesday morning, the ruling party of President Vladimir Putin told all of Russia’s teachers to reduce homework for students during the Winter Games in Sochi so that they all have time to watch Team Russia compete.

“In my view, that would be the right decision,” said the chamber’s speaker, Sergei Naryshkin. To justify the measure, Naryshkin said that Russia’s Ministry of Defense had likewise cut the training hours for all military personnel during the Olympics. “Now our servicemen have more of a chance to follow the competition,” Naryshkin noted.

But these measures were not done just for the love of sport. They were an effort to capitalize on the surge of national pride that the Sochi Olympics have brought. For years, Putin has made it his mission to promote patriotism among the Russian youth, even claiming that western powers are in a constant “battle” with his government over their moral character. “Russian society today is experiencing an obvious deficit of spiritual staples,” Putin said in a speech last year. “We must not only develop confidently, but also preserve our national and spiritual identity, not lose ourselves as a nation.”

And what better way to promote Russia’s sense of national purpose than to watch Russian Olympians skiing, curling, bobsledding and riding the halfpipe on their own home turf? Maybe it would help if they were doing a little better in the medals tally. So far, Team Russia is in seventh place, one slot behind the United States, having won only one gold medal during the first five days of the Games.

But merely having the Olympics in Russia has already brought a boost to national pride, especially after the opening ceremony on Feb. 7 presented a historical collage of Russian triumphs. That night, even some of the jaded urbanites of Moscow got swept up in the moment. “Most of my fellow citizens, including me and many of my friends, are willingly succumbing to a patriotic surge,” the prominent banker Igor Kulchik wrote on the website of Snob magazine. “And for the first time in many years we are saying without sarcasm or venom, but with pride, ‘We are Russia, this is our country.'”

Now the trick will be to keep that euphoria going, to make it permanent. A couple more hours a night of Olympic hockey and figure skating may not be enough to achieve that for a whole generation. But at the price of a few lousy algebra quizzes and a couple chapters of Tolstoy, it’s worth a try.

TIME olympics

Topless Photos of Lebanese Olympic Skier Cause a Scandal Back Home

Lebanese skier Jacky Chamoun speaks during an interview at the ski resort of Faraya, northeast of Beirut, March 8, 2013.
Lebanese skier Jacky Chamoun speaks during an interview at the ski resort of Faraya, northeast of Beirut, March 8, 2013. Bilal Hussein—AP

Three years ago Jackie Chamoun posed as a pin-up girl; now, the behind the scenes footage has come back to haunt her as she makes her Sochi debut

Topless photos and racy video footage of Lebanese Olympic Skier Jackie Chamoun have gone viral in Lebanon, prompting a potential government inquiry just days before the Olympic veteran is due to compete in the women’s giant Slalom in Sochi. But government claims that the revealing footage may have damaged Lebanon’s “reputation” have precipitated an enormous backlash in a country that has suffered far worse than the publication of images that wouldn’t look out of place in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

The photos, taken three years ago at Lebanon’s Faraya ski resort as part of an annual Austrian cult calendar shoot featuring male and female Olympic ski instructors, are tame by most calendar criteria—her breasts are concealed by a strategically placed ski or a half-zipped parka. The accompanying behind-the-scenes video (NSFW, to be sure) is more revealing, if chill inducing. The 22-year-old skier-turned model, clad in little more than ski boots and thong underwear, gamely acquiesces to a photographer’s request to lounge in the snow or climb a treacherous-looking icefall. During a brief interview at the end of the 1:38 minute long video, Chamoun admits that it’s much easier being a ski racer than a model because “I’m not used to posing with no clothes on.”

The 2013 calendar was released last year, but the video only surfaced a few days ago, when the local Al-Jadeed television highlighted it in a news broadcast, calling it a “scandal.” The images took Lebanese social media by storm, and the country has spoken of little else for the past few days. Chamoun admitted on her Facebook page to posing for the photos “with other professional athletes”and apologized for offending her critics. But she also implored fans and critics alike to drop the issue so she could ski her best at Sochi. “Now that I’m at the Olympic Games … All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it, it will really help me focusing on what is really important now: my trainings and race,” she wrote. The post earned her more than 13,000 Likes and an outpouring of support. “Jackie, many Lebanese people including myself would rather see a Lebanese naked beauty than what we see in our country,” wrote one fan. “You have not done anything wrong.”

Faisal Karami, Lebanon’s caretaker minister of youth and sports, was less enthusiastic. According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, he ordered the country’s Olympic committee to launch an inquiry and take all steps necessary to avoid “harming Lebanon’s reputation.” That statement elicited an even greater scandal, as Lebanese across the spectrum ridiculed the minister for his shortsighted take on what really ails Lebanon. In an editorial titled “What Reputation?” the English language Daily Star newspaper lashed out at Karami and Chamoun’s critics. “Since the beginning of 2014, there have been no fewer than six car bombs,” the editorial said. “There is a general lack of law and order, not to mention the lack of a working government. Is there a better definition of a failed state than ours? This woman, who should be a source of pride to the country, … is being blamed for something she chose to do with her free will, while the everyday concerns of citizens are being wholly and fundamentally neglected.”

Lebanon’s online news portal, NOW, was more blunt, placing Chamoun’s pinup alongside an image of a heavily armed man in camouflage under the headline “Boobs over Bullets.” And Lebanese human rights activist and blogger Melkar El Khoury was apoplectic in a recent post: “In a country that is overburdened with debts, embezzlement and corruption, political deadlocks and terrorism, drug and human trafficking, uncontrolled spread of personal weapons, economic decay and unemployment… Jackie’s [rear end] is undermining Lebanon’s image and sending the wrong message?”

Allegations of hypocrisy aside, the “scandal” has caused a bit of head scratching among many Lebanese. Yes, many parts of Lebanon are conservative, but billboards spanning the length of the country’s highways feature cosmetic surgery and laser hair removal clinic ads that reveal almost as much as Chamoun’s photo shoot. While topless bathing is frowned upon at most beach clubs, a summer stroll down Beirut’s seaside corniche offers a wide spectrum of female dress, from ground skimming shapeless black veils to high-heels and hot pants. That tolerance for diversity, forged in the crucible of a 15-year sectarian civil war, is a fundamental part of Lebanon’s reputation as the most liberal and fun-loving country in the Middle East, no matter what crises come its way. The suggestion that an Olympic skier’s brief foray into modeling is a scandal is what undermines Lebanon’s reputation, not the act itself.

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