As the months progress, we are drawing closer and closer to many people’s favorite season: summer — a time when you can let loose, soak up the sun and take the layers of winter off for a few months. As we get closer to the sunny season, we must once again deal with issue of people’s choice of clothing, especially female choices.
When the temperature goes up, people are far more inclined to rip off their winter coats and boots to throw on some shorts and a tank top. It is natural that we choose to wear clothing that does not produce as much body heat because there is already enough of a swelter to make up for the loss of fabric.
However, many people have taken issue with women exposing their bodies or choosing not to wear clothing. In an article by Paul King for BBC News, King explains that many people develop a sense of shame around nudity because the behavioral code of society tells us this is wrong. Psychologists explain that, “Over thousands of generations, we’ve learned that showing off a naked body sends out sexual signals that threaten the security of mating pairs.”
To those people who are against exposing skin, I say let people choose for themselves how they want to dress (or not dress, for that matter). It is their body, not yours to look at and judge or harass.
I’ve had this particular issue with the Stony Brook Recreation Center before. At the beginning of the fall semester, when it was still warm, I went to a workout class and began to sweat substantially. I thus proceeded to take my shirt off because I had a sports bra on underneath and was used to doing so when I would sweat a lot — it makes sense to remove layers when you’re warm. I was then told by the class instructor that I had to keep my shirt on because it was the recreation center policy. This confused me; why couldn’t I remove a layer to alleviate my sweating?
During the summer I choose to wear outfits that expose more of my skin, like a crop top and shorts, and have received many comments pertaining to it. Comments like, “You should not expose your body that much, it gives people the wrong idea,” or “Hey girl! How you doing?” have both been said to me on multiple occasions. Both are reasons why women choose not to expose themselves as much — for fear of being harassed.
There is nothing inherently wrong with revealing more of your body, yet others commenting on it causes a problem. There have been times in history where clothing could be more exposing or was not worn at all and the world was not in chaos. Look at sculptures from ancient Greece — nudity is common, and this was not the only place where they displayed nudity. It was very common in ancient Greece for people to be nude, especially athletes. This is why I believe that when people start caring less about how much clothing someone is wearing, society will be better.
The reasons why people oppose less or no clothing for women are completely irrational. The argument that bare skin will distract or make people uncomfortable is ludicrous and will stick in the mind of many high school girls who are told to change their tank top because their shoulders are too distracting to boys. If boys need girls to cover their shoulders in order to concentrate, then the school should be concerned with how easily distracted its students are. For that matter, if anyone cannot handle someone’s bare skin, then they should take a look in the mirror at themselves naked and reevaluate. We are all humans, and we all have skin underneath our clothes.
Then there is the victim blaming that so often happens in our society. Many people think that if a women is sexually harassed or assaulted, then by default she is the one to blame. She did something to cause it to happen, a common example being what she was wearing. This is just ridiculous logic. It doesn’t matter what she wears — there is never a justification for sexual assault. A woman could be wearing a see-through plastic wrap dress and it would still give no one a reason to harass or assault her.
This why I find the argument claiming that someone’s dress makes them more susceptible to catcalling completely invalid. It all comes back to the problem of people being distracted by exposed skin.
Sexualizing skin is what causes people to have problems with women exposing themselves. If we never sexualized it, then people would leave others alone concerning their choice of clothing. In a story by Eun Kyung Kim posted by “The Today Show,” a young girl in Kentucky was sent to the principal’s office and asked to change because her collarbone was exposed. Something that should never be considered a sexual part of a person’s body was targeted as being too exposed. This over-sexualization targets girls by body shaming then blaming them for sexual harassment.
So no matter what you choose to wear, enjoy the summer months while they are here and choose to not judge others for their choices.