home Editorial, Features The cost of “sexy” | Annie Hoey

The cost of “sexy” | Annie Hoey

Well well, here we are again. Another week, another paper. And what has happened since the last time we spoke? Well there was Halloween of course. All them tiny tiny outfits with those tiny tiny women squished into them. Those sexy sexy cats/mice/bunnies/pirates/wenches/witches/ladybugs/bumble bees. So much flesh. When I expressed my disquiet at all this flesh (keeping in mind how cold it was that night also!!) a ‘friend’ (not such a good friend it turns out) sarkily commented that “surely you would only love all the ladies fawning about half naked”. Not very nice. Whatever my sexual preferences are, it is not ok to disguise sexism and homophobia as a ‘joke’.

Some might say that I took his comment too seriously. Well I don’t think so. Just because I am incredibly open about who I am does not make it ok to mar sexism into a joke at the expense of not only me as a person, but at the expense of women everywhere. I suppose based on this person’s assumptions that I also spend my hours trawling the internet looking up scantily clad (or not clad at all) women for me to oogle at. I gawp and stare at every piece of exposed flesh that dare pass me by. Just because I am a woman it would not make it acceptable for me to objectify women in the same way patriarchy has done so for centuries. Sexism is still sexism, no matter who is the one doing it. Of course I appreciate things that I find aesthetically pleasing- I am human after all. But there is a world of difference between appreciating something and going out and blatantly objectifying something.

Someone else commented that as a feminist I ought not to judge women for dressing as they please. Now I would like to point out here that there is a difference between expressing concern and surprise at what people are wearing and sitting sanctimoniously on my high horse judging them. I really honestly and truly believe that a person ought to dress in a way that they find pleasing to themselves. It is a rare occasion that I get up in the morning and when dragging clothes out of my cupboard do I think to myself “who do I need to impress today?” Of course, I too get a snippet of the self-conscious willies. I want to fit in. Look good. Even get the odd compliment!! But it is not often that I dress in order for society at large to find me ‘sexy’. This, I would argue, is the very purpose behind these ridiculous ‘sexy’ costumes.

I truly believe in the power of inner confidence and doing whatever it takes to make you happy and comfortable in yourself. However, I question how these costumes aid this. I have no doubt that there are indeed some women out there who got a huge confidence boost out of dressing ‘sexy’. And that is great- go you!! But what about all the other women who I saw tentatively stumbling on in their insanely high heels, pulling at the hems of their skirts and yoinking their tops up? They certainly didn’t look comfortable, never mind ‘sexy’ (sexy is a subjective term so this is only my interpretation of what I consider ‘sexy’- and being blatantly uncomfortable in yourself is not terribly sexy to me).

So why do it? Why dress in such a manner when it is so obvious that you are self-conscious and uncomfortable? And this is not a lone Halloween phenomenon. It happens all the time. I constantly see women out, squeezed into tiny dresses, feet bound into ridiculously high torture devices (aka high heels), and hair and makeup coiffed to perfection (which then require constant topping up throughout the night). Don’t get me wrong- I am not adverse to a bit of dressing up and the like. What I question is the reasoning behind why women do it. If it is for themselves then that is awesome and more power to them!! But if you cannot look in the mirror and honestly say that at least some of the reason of dressing in such a way is for yourself, then I worry.

So I ask you just one thing when you are putting on your ‘sexy’ gear? Who is it for? Because if it is not at least a little bit for yourself then I would suggest you re-question your motives.