As a top-heavy woman, I have been exposed to ridicule and harassment for the majority of my life. I remember interning at a prestigious financial firm during college, when I overheard a rumor that a financial advisor in my division was calling me a “slut” behind my back. When asked by his colleagues as to why I was a “slut,” he simply stated: “Look how big her boobs are and how tight she wears her sweaters.”
A few years later, I landed a job as an account executive for another prestigious firm. One day I was called into my supervisor’s office where he proceeded to tell me that I should not wear tight turtle neck shirts because I looked unprofessional, due to how my figure is shaped. Mind you, other women who were not as well-endowed wore the same type of shirts and were not reprimanded for it. Could I have filed harassment or discrimination charges? Certainly, but I didn’t. I walked out of his office feeling ashamed as if I did something wrong. Instead of feeling angry at the unfairness of the situation, I was questioning if I was dressing appropriately in order to hide my large bosom.
I am not just targeting men. Women can be just as judgmental. Society teaches us that if you dress provocatively you are an attention-seeking whore. If you aren’t dressed-up enough, you are not fashionable and considered dowdy. We, as women, have the right to assert our sexual power however we choose to. The problem with our society is that we judge those who choose to exercise that power.
I personally love dressing in tight clothes (even admitting this makes me feel ashamed. See how society has brainwashed me?) Is my preference for wearing body-fitting clothes an indication of wanting attention or being a “loose” woman? Not at all, and it should never be perceived that way. At what point does wearing heels, lots of makeup, and a slinky cocktail dress a form of pornography or an invitation to be called a slut, whore, or THOT? (A new term which apparently is an acronym for “That Hoe Over There”) When does wearing sweat pants and a tee shirt make you a boring prude or a feminist? Why isn’t our own sexuality ours to control without severe judgement from the public?
The danger of this particular misogynistic ignorance is that blame is placed on the woman by those that belittle her. We are somehow left feeling guilty for how people treat us. For example, how many times have you heard, “she dressed that way so she deserved it” or “if she dresses like a whore she’s going to be treated like one” when it comes to sexual harassment or even rape?
his thought process suggests that a woman has the power to avoid sexual abuse if she is dressed according to what society deems is appropriate.
Judgmental thoughts about how a woman should dress is demeaning and obstructs freedom of self-expression. Yes, I wear provocative clothing. I also wear hiking gear, motorcycle attire, jeans, and exercise apparel. We have the right to control our sexual power without harassment and criticism.
Luckily through the years, I finally learned how to be comfortable in my own skin. The most important lesson I found through the learning process is; It is not liberating to show skin or cover it up. The liberation lies in having the choice.