I know it's been done before. Sure, I get that it's designed to shock and awe. And indeed, I realize it may cause some to stumble and plenty others to stand in judgment. But I must say: although I usually shake my fists at the number of scantily clad "cover girls" we must endure, I couldn't help staring and smiling upon seeing a coyly covered, nude and pregnant Jessica Simpson on the cover of the April issue of Elle.

Maybe it's because I've grown weary—especially during the recent birth-control mandate-related political debates—of the cultural conversations in which pregnancy is seen as a tragedy, as a horrible inconvenience needing public dollars to prevent. Maybe it was just nice to see a pregnancy celebrated so publicly and audaciously.

But I also smiled because a photograph—even a sexy, nude one—of a woman huge with child on the cover of a fashion magazine is a welcome change of pace to the typical portraits of women's bodies as mere harbingers of lust and envy.

Of course, I'm not fool enough to think that the Elle cover is free from objectification or that it was done to make a political point (at least not the one I'm thinking) or that it's not meant to highlight what writer Margot Starbuck calls, in Unsqueezed, being "instrumental" over "ornamental." Goodness, I'm a former magazine editor. I know that the entire purpose of anyone on a cover is ornamental—a lure to compel readers to grab the magazine.

But even if the reason for the nude image of Simpson is to sell magazines (and that is the reason), if it's true that there is a time for everything—including a time for a naked woman to be used to sell a magazine—I say, it's during pregnancy. At least then, we see a woman's body ...

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