Is modesty a thing of the past?

06 Jun


That is one of the many questions I have been asking myself for quite a while now, especially since the famous singer Rihanna clothed herself (just about) in this very interesting outfit. I have nothing against this woman as I do not know her personally and I will probably never know her way of life behind closed doors, so I can only base my perception of her on the public image she much enjoys to portray. Rihanna is one of the many singers whom a lot of young girls and women emulate and aspire to be like in today’s society where sex is used as a tool to reach out to the masses and generate revenue. But what about the immensely talented artists of old, who were fully clothed but were still regarded as ‘sexy’ and attractive in their own right and managed to generate revenue whilst maintaining their modesty? Would they still be regarded as ‘sexy’ based on today’s standards where the more you show, the ‘sexier’ you apparently are? The likes of Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Marylin Monroe and Sade, to name a few. These ladies are examples of women who were regarded by many world over as being highly attractive and appealing even without showing excessive skin. Has what was once taboo become the new normal?

So why is it that the media embraces this skin-parading frenzy in music videos, television commercials, magazines, newspapers etc? Rihanna is beautiful, no doubt, so why does she have to get naked to be ‘sexy’? Which leads me to my next question – what exactly is ‘sexy’? The media has planted this seed into society’s minds that has lead the masses to believe that there is an epitome of ‘sexy’ and attractive. I personally think that sexiness, attractiveness, beauty etc are relative. There are some people who find Rihanna ‘sexy’ when she is nearly in her birthday suit in videos and magazines, and there are some who don’t but instead find Adele ‘sexy’ – each to their own, right?

Have the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azalea etc redefined ‘sexiness’ or are they examples of how society has lost touch with the meaning of modesty and decency? There seems to be an increase in the number of young girls and women on social media who are showing more and more flesh all in the name of ‘sexiness’. There are pages and profiles created solely for the purposes of posting semi-naked and sometimes fully naked images of ‘sexy’ individuals. I should probably point out that some of these intimate and personal images and videos posted on social networking sites are shared not only with friends and family, but also complete strangers. I believe the media has a very big part to play in this because of what it portrays as the definition of ‘sexy’. Some may argue that being scantily clad is freedom of expression, and rightly so, but an expression of what exactly? Is it not possible for a woman to be modestly covered and still be ‘sexy’?

I once heard someone say presentation determines approach – so let’s imagine for a second that an ordinary female is walking down the road dressed in the same outfit as Rihanna – what sort of attention would she attract and how would she be approached? Men, what motive would you have for approaching her? Would your intentions be to establish something serious or just a ‘pit stop’? What about a conservatively-dressed female walking down that same road? How would she be approached and what motive would you have for approaching her? Or would you not approach her because she hasn’t got that ‘sexy’ look that the media has defined and littered everywhere? However in light of this, I have also heard that a book should never be judged by it’s cover and so an individual should never be judged based on what they are wearing, or barely wearing even, because even the modestly-covered ones have some dirty laundry behind closed doors, right? Are both these valid points, I wonder? Having said this though, I am certain that there are a vast number of men who view Rihanna as ‘sexy’, and somewhere in the back of their minds they would prefer for their wives/girlfriends to make an effort to be more like her – kind of like some sort of fantasy. Does this then lead to added pressure on women as they try to be more like the celebrities their husbands/boyfriends find ‘sexy’? Why then do some men slate women who show excessive skin when they aren’t that woman’s partner, but would be exceedingly happy if they had to get with that very woman – a case of double-standards, perhaps?

I have also heard some people say that, this is just an attention-seeking ploy because the celebrities emulated by millions of women get attention by using nakedness as a form of ‘sexiness’. So do some women feel it necessary to follow suit and be naked for a bit of attention? I pose another question to the men out there – if it isn’t happening already, would any of you mind if your woman posed half-naked or fully naked and have other guys drooling over her and making crude and obscene remarks? Or do you view your other half’s body as, for lack of a better word, somewhat sacred and special and meant for your viewing pleasure only, and not for the enjoyment and indulgence of complete strangers?

Would it be a bad thing for these celebrities who are supposed to be role models to the younger generation to present themselves in a way that is modest and respectful? Are Rihanna and co. simply a voice for millions of women out there who want to portray themselves freely? There are so many arguments to this and it’s a subject which is open to interpretation and I doubt these questions will ever be answered convincingly. One question seems to lead to another…and another…and another – the search for the naked truth continues (pun not intended).

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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Culture, Social


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