Sexuality and Fashion: An Easy Analysis?

Ever since Miley Cyrus’ infamous VMA performance, there have been various debates about feminism, sexuality, and slut-shaming.  It seems like whenever a female celebrity starts to shed skin, the topic of sex is brought to the forefront since we as a society closely associate sex with the amount of clothes that a woman is wearing.  The less clothes that she wears and the more skin that she shows, the sexier she is portrayed to be. But what about the woman who wears chunky sweaters and skinny jeans?  Is there no need for dialogue about a woman’s level of sexual attractiveness whenever she covers her “assets”?  I think that we should have the same types of discussion about how a woman expresses her sexuality when she has plenty of clothes on as much as we do for when a woman is dressed scantily clad.   As a matter of fact, whenever we should take about a woman’s expression we should consider that the lines between dressing for one’s self and dressing for others are sometimes blurred.  Our reasons are multifaceted

Before I came to Princeton, I had never seen a woman wear lace tops with bright bras underneath their tops.  Granted I was not a partier even in the slightest in the high school. But when I first went out on the “Street” my freshman year, I noticed that so many women were so free with their bodies.  They wore push-up bras and short skirts that accentuated their curves and long legs.  There were those who wore these styles in order to attract men—and dared anyone to call them a “slut”.  Because unfortunately, rape culture exists and many believe that if a woman wears the type of clothing that I mentioned, they are seeking sex.  But what about the women who wear short skirts are those who are extremely tall and believe that their legs are their best features?  People generally choose clothes that make them feel good about themselves and furthermore, short skirts became a trend as a statement of empowerment for women.  So where did this distortion occur?  It seems like the more skin a woman shows, the more vulnerable she is to attack. 

I consider myself a conservative dresser.  Although I have an hourglass shape, I tend to cover up everything from the neck down.  For the women who also label themselves as such, despite the fact that they do not show as much skin, should the topic of attention-seeking versus dressing for one’s self be closed?  What if a woman learns that wearing green vivifies her eyes or that a nice red sweater dress still hugs her body in all the right places?  She, like the girls who dress more provocatively, could be expressing their femininity in this way while still wanting to attract a potential paramour. 

We should never immediately look at another female and label her as attention-starved because she wears less clothes than others just as we shouldn’t assume that the woman who dresses conservatively doesn’t want attention for what she’s wearing.  But then again, that is human nature: we have the tendency to categorize people according to how they present themselves in order to gain understanding about the world and those around us even if our reasoning is flawed.  Fashion, like life, is a performance.  What we wear is an expression of ourselves that I believe is a mixture of both how we view ourselves and how we want others to view us.  Although we are all individuals, we are still connected to others, whether it be socially, academically, romantically, et cetera.  I personally just hope that in regards to fashion, despite this push and pull between individuality and commonality, we do not automatically pigeonhole others before we even have the chance to understand the complexities behind their styling choices.