The rules must have changed, although it seems no one bothered to tell me. When did it become okay for Halle Berry to appear on a late night talk show with a sheer turtleneck top that made her bra a topic of conversation? When did it become okay for Miley Cyrus to appear on stage in what can only be described as suspenders posing as a pseudo-shirt? When did it become okay for stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow to walk the red carpet in a dress with sheer panels and/or high slits that make it possible to wear underwear?
I was taught that there were certain rules of conduct, certain ways to behave myself when out in public that were considered appropriate, proper, and respectful. And respectful not just to others, but to myself as well.
The rules must have changed though, because now at thirty-nine years of age, I read the papers, watch the news, and see the Yahoo blurbs that include photos that contradict everything I once thought to be true.
Let me give you some examples.
When I was a kid, I was taught that certain parts of my body were considered “private parts.” They weren’t to be shown to anyone. In fact, they were to be covered up at all times.
Now, women are flaunting their private parts. Going on stage with what can only be described as fancy stickers to cover up some of their intimate regions. They are regularly showing parts of themselves, and instead of keeping them private, are making them very public.
When I was a kid, I was taught that underwear was always to be worn under clothes and never purposely shown to anyone.
Now, I see women wearing dresses that make it impossible for them to wear underwear. And rather than hide this fact, it is publicized, flaunted, and celebrated. I see women going on television wearing sheer tops with the express purpose of making their undergarments visible to others.
When I was a kid, I was taught to make my family proud. I knew that everything I did wasn’t just a reflection on myself but, by extension, my family.
Now, I see women of all ages parading themselves around in outfits that make me blush. And all I can think of is the embarrassment and mortification my dad and son would feel if they saw me dressed that way.
When I was a kid, I was taught that what I did was more important than what I wore.
Now, women have gone beyond the usual Red Carpet scenario and dressing to impress, and instead are dressing to shock.
And all this is happening at a time when women are becoming increasingly vocal about the disparities in pay that still exist between men and women.
This is the time when a woman hopes to become our next President. This is the time when a woman is now refereeing National Football League games. For every stride forward one woman makes, it seems there’s another woman taking giant steps backwards.
I’m going to generalize here and say that women want to be taken seriously. They want their intelligence, their contributions to society, their thoughts, their ideas, and their actions to be considered based on their merit. Women want to be treated as people and not objects.
Yet, that’s not how some women, mainly women who are in a position of some sort of power and/or celebrity, are presenting themselves. And as a woman, it makes me angry. Frankly, I want people to talk to me for my brains, not my breasts. I want to be considered noteworthy for my actions, not my ass.
How can women really demand, and expect to receive, equal pay, equal rights, and equal respect from others when we’re not giving it to ourselves? Men are not expected to parade on stage while scantily-clad. Women do; women feel like they should, because other women are doing it. And these women want to be noticed. They want to stand out. And they are using their bodies to do that.
Most distressing to me are the number of women who dress themselves in this provocative, overly sexualized manner and who are also mothers — mothers of young girls. What is the message they are sending their daughters? That regardless of their talents or skills, it only really means anything if you’ve got a flat tummy and big boobs, and are willing to show them?
What is the message we are conveying to our girls? What do we really want them to aspire to? Study after study has proven that the sexualization of women is dangerous to our young girls. And yet, women perpetuate it with the way they dress themselves.
My body has a purpose. It’s not a decoration, and it’s not a distraction. It’s the house for my vital organs. The container for my heart and brain; the vessel that allows me to think and write and ultimately share my message.