Fashion trends that leave little to the imagination
By Cady Lang
You know you’ve seen them walking back from a night out—bandage-tight miniskirts barely covering a derriere, backless dresses or tank tops with plunging necklines to there. Maybe you’ve noticed that many dresses and skirts now conveniently provide functional zippers or snap buttons as accents running down the back or the front, and maybe you’ve wondered how people can keep themselves zipped or buttoned up during a night out.
Or maybe you’re just wondering how and why so many girls on Ithaca’s campus can wear cropped trapeze tops that prominently showcase midriffs at parties despite the freezing temperatures.
Either way, the clothing’s pretty flimsy—and incredibly easy to get a free feel during a night out. But why are girls choosing to dress themselves in clothes that offer such, ahem, easy access?
Some might argue that dressing in this manner characterizes a girl who’s insecure and thus tries to attract attention in barely-there get-ups, while others argue still that choosing to dress in these styles is an outward expression of self-confidence. Freshman K.C. Weston thinks that the message behind “easy access” clothing depends on the attitude and mindset of the wearers themselves.
“There are girls that are confident enough to wear whatever they want when they go out without caring about what people think,” she said. “Then you have other girls that dress that way because they want to boost their self-esteem through the way they look.”
Freshman Caleb Miller agrees with Weston’s attitude. He said, “The clothing doesn’t make the person, the person makes the clothing. Her attitude defines whether or not she’s ‘easy access.’”
However, he doesn’t dispute that he finds it attractive when girls who dress scantily when they go out.
“I think a girl’s hot when she wears that stuff, but at the same time, I’m not really the kind of guy who likes short skirts,” he said. “I like girls better who respect their bodies.”
While it is true that the attitude behind wardrobe choices inherently defines the social importance of the clothing choices, the wrong message can be relayed by easy access clothing wearers. When asked to define what they thought about easy access clothing, both Weston and Miller responded that it makes the wearer “look like she’s ready for sex” and that such clothing probably “makes sex readily available.”
Girls might choose to wear these clothes when they go out because they are confident in themselves and their bodies, but it doesn’t change the fact that their outfits still carry the stigma of objectification.
They might feel that they are empowered when they choose to dress in this type of clothing because they are making the decision to dress in this manner for themselves. However, people won’t look at girls and think about how self-actualized they are in their body when wearing mini-dresses and spandex bandage skirts; they’ll be too busy focusing on the skin exposed by the miniscule clothing.
As much as we might try to justify that girls are ultimately empowered by the ability to choose whether or not they want to dress in easy access clothing, free from societal obligations, the fact still remains that these clothing styles are ultimately rooted in displaying overt sexuality. Journalist Christina Binkley wrote in a 2008 article published in The Wall Street Journal, “The complexities of sexism go well beyond how women dress. But many women seem to be unaware that liberation comes from actual power, not the power to wear bold clothes.”
Essentially, easy access clothing presents a paradox for girls. Girls are empowered because they can choose to wear this type of clothing. They can celebrate healthy self-esteem by choosing to confidently wear clothing that might be on the skimpier side, regardless of society’s body ideals. It’s their choice to wear easy access clothing—and they can choose to do it for only themselves, regardless of what others may think. However, at the same time, they are still objectified, because dressing in a manner that’s intentionally provocative, even though they are confident, still panders to gender norms about physical appearance and sexuality.
Weston commented that easy access clothing is definitely a gender issue.
“I feel like girls have to do a lot more work before going out than guys do,” she said.
But the work that girls have to do before going out is infinitely more than just picking out an outfit. It’s a conscious decision about how they react and feel about social norms. When girls dress in easy access clothing, they have a lot more to think about when they go out than just the chilly Ithaca weather—it’s also the social effects of what they choose as their attire.
Cady Lang is a freshman journalism major who wants you to know your epidermis is showing. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.