Flashing Flesh: A Fashion Faux Pas?

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c/o Sean MacEntee

Take for a moment the phrase “flashing the flesh”. I have seen it so many times in different magazines and online articles, and although I understand its meaning, I’m always lost by the negative stigma that is attached to it. I have pondered this question many times, because I am honestly not offended by nudity or near-nudity in the fashion industry, and to paint a larger picture, in the music industry either.

As a fashion devotee, I will pour over numerous fashion magazines a month and use internet search engines to satisfy my craving of ‘when this celebrity wore that and where’. There is no denying that showing more and more of one’s skin has become a big part of both the fashion and music industries, and whether you like fashion or music or neither, you will have heard about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs or Rihanna’s most recent music video for “Pour it up”. They’ve both been labelled “classless”,“tasteless” and ‘trashy’.

Now, I’m not writing this article to ponder over whether it’s trashy or tasteless to dance on Robin Thicke with a foam finger, or dance on a stripper’s pole. I couldn’t care less about that. I do want to talk about the near-nudity, though. The lack of clothing that so fascinates (and disgusts, it seems) many of the more conservative writers and viewers out there.

Katy Perry has been recently quoted as stating “everyone is getting naked… put it away”. It’s generally a known fact of the music, film and fashion industries that ‘sex sells’, and this is something that generally more conservative individuals cling to as a serious downside. Take, for example, Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus, chastising Miley’s management for “prostituting” her to make money. The stigma attached to the naked body is deafening, and it’s something that needs justifying before I can accept it quietly.

Miley was very quick to defend her personal choice to, in no uncertain terms, wear very little clothing. A lot of judgement has passed over Miley for not being a suitable role model for girls anymore and that is something I completely agree with. We should not be teaching young girls that they need to be over-sexualised, but we also shouldn’t be teaching them to hide their body away once they’re older, lest they be called a dreaded s-word.

So why is it that ‘flashing the flesh’ is considered such a risqué term in our society today? Especially when most of the time it’s only when women are exposing some skin. Granted, women spent a long time required to be covered up, their flesh revealed only to their husbands. However, I am still surprised by a visible need to condemn women who show ‘too much’ skin, even when they work in the fashion industry and it is their job to advertise clothes whether they be limited or not. Take, for instance, the very recent low-cut trend dubbed ‘extreme cleavage’ by the media. Miranda Kerr did it, Cara Delevigne did it, and the majority of people said “that’s too much” and “that’s not classy”. Explain to me, what is classy? Does the amount of flesh you reveal signify you have little money or status, that you belong in a lower class?

Have you ever changed an outfit because you thought you might be judged for its revealing nature? It all comes down to personal choice. We have the choice to cover our bodies in public, and we have the choice to reveal a certain amount of them too. It’s our judgement of other people that we need to re-examine.

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