This is a topic that I’ve struggled with for a long time. On the one side of this debate a woman should be comfortable wearing whatever she wants to on stage or in music videos. It shouldn’t matter whether that be a tiny string bikini or a novelty onsie. On the other side of this debate, however, is the trend toward female musicians wearing less actually detracting from the message of their music?
Lets take the first half of the debate that women should wear whatever, whenever.
This debate is tied in to the whole catcalling idea that women ‘ask for it’ if they wear something provocative (the topic of an entirely new post). But whether a woman is walking down a street or performing to an arena full of people, they should be able to do it naked without fear. In practice this is not encouraged but you get the idea. Women get judged either way, if they wear something too tiny or ‘sexy’ then it’s inappropriate but if they wear something too mundane (like jeans) then they haven’t tried hard enough. There is no way of keeping everyone happy in this world. So should they be trying to keep everyone happy?
I think there’s a time and a place for ‘sexy’ costumes and often female performers fall foul of this. Wearing a ‘sexy’ outfit that threatens to show your breasts or you female area to world at any moment is, I think at least, a tad inappropriate to wear to a daytime family concert. However, that’s not to say that female performers shouldn’t be ‘sexy’ I just believe there’s ways of portraying that without the outfit being revealing. Maybe that makes me a prude and the person with the problem? I don’t know, I just personally feel it sends the wrong message to young girls that for them to feel powerful they must be sexy and in order to accomplish that they need to wear revealing clothes and have their make-up ‘on point’.
The other side of this debate is whether wearing more ‘sexy’ clothes detracts from female musicians overall talent currently.
If a girl has amazing vocal talents, why does that mean they often don’t wear a lot of clothes? Surely, following the previous argument, they should be able to sing the same thing in jeans and a crop top, so why isn’t this often not the case? Why is glamour and sexy now so often linked to smaller items of clothing commonly bedecked in rhinestones? It does raise the question in some cases about whether people watch them for their music or their outfit? That’s not a question that I think should be allowed to be raised. They are musicians, it is about their musical skill but sometimes it does make you wonder and it does make you question.
I’m going to show my age here and hark back to the famous Britney Spears video and her cover of ‘I love rock a roll’. I can remember at the time news presenters joking that men were watching the video with the sound off just to see Britney in a leather jumpsuit on a motorcycle. So a lot of people, it would seem, watched that video not for her skill as a musician or because they liked her as a person, but as an object, an object of sexy.
There’s not an easy answer to that. Was it Britney wearing ‘sexy’ clothes and moving provocatively that got the video that reputation or was its people’s reactions? Is it both? Does it take away from her as a musician to sell her music in that way? Is it appropriate? Or should she be able to because women should be able to where whatever and do whatever?
I think a lot of women in music are perhaps not wearing things because they want to but because it’s the way they think they ought to be portrayed.
Someone who’s glamorous or sexy rather than the girl next door. We’ve all seen the performers in their amazing dresses. That’s why performances like this one from Alessia Cara (whom I adore as a musician) are so powerful:
Look at how much the confidence changes when she’s wearing something she’s comfortable in. Yes, you could argue that she was just worried about the costume change going wrong, but the change in body language regardless is undeniable. Bringing this concept closer to home, how many of you have seen girls start an evening in amazing heels only for them to be carrying them by the end of the night because they’re too uncomfortable? Girls that don’t bring coats on nights out because it won’t look cool and there’s nowhere sensible to store it once you get there? Why do people suffer so much for the sake of fashion, for the sake of beauty? What is beauty anyway? Is it that beautiful pair of shoes or is it that true smile of happiness when a person sees something that makes them happy? Is it obtaining the perfect silhouette or the smile you give someone when you help them with something as little as making them a cup of tea? What is beauty?
So what do you guys think? Should women wear whatever they want? Do ‘sexy’ clothes detract from a performers overall skill? Are women choosing to wear these things themselves or is it what their manager/publicist/general pressure want them to wear?