- Posted March 31, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Should this sexy, controversial clothing be banned?
With recent news stories abuzz about Tiffany Austin allegedly being told by staff at her Planet Fitness gym that she needed to cover up her bare midriff because her toned body was drawing complaints of intimidation from other health club members, there’s been a resurgence surrounding the topic of appropriate wardrobes in fitness locations, workplaces and schools.
At least this CNN iReporter has had several interesting conversations as of late surrounding the subject of dress codes, and what exactly should be allowed and deemed respectable enough to wear in front of colleagues and workout partners. The dicey and controversial part of those debates arises when a person seemingly steps over the somewhat subjective and sometimes unwritten rules of engagement in terms of their work or workout gear, crossing the line into immoral attire. The manner in which an organization chooses to address the situation can mean the difference between a public relations fiasco and satisfied clients or happy employees.
Public decency versus creative self-expression
When talk turns to outlawing stuff people wear – which is a form of artistic expression in and of itself – or what they say or sing, I can’t help but harken back to the 1980s when the 2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” turned out to be so nasty it was initially determined to be legally obscene, and group members arrested when they performed songs from the album. The legal ruling was overturned, but the melee birthed the parental discretion warning labels now found on many works. The Florida-based group followed up the controversial ditties with their “Banned in the USA” anthem in protest.
Besides songs, clothes have also represented an interesting test of public mores over the decades – from the period when two-piece bathing suits were considered a scandal to the tight “sweater girl” 1950s era. Now that these 21st-century days find thongs pretty much standard apparel – at least on my fitness freak inspired Instagram feed – there seem to be new lines drawn in the sands of decency all the time.
Pushing those boundaries and kicking up a dust-storm of Internet buzz lately is the clothing line Wizards of the West, whose “Ride Me,” “Oh Lord” and “Honey Lips” shirts have forced people to pay attention to the salacious artwork prominently displayed on the front, which alternately features close-up scenes of a woman’s lips in provocative poses – capped off by a sensual scene with a Savior-like soul.
Blasphemy, hypocrisy or Peyton Place posturing?
After the first glance of that “Oh Lord” shirt, which displays a bearded man tightly embracing a topless woman who sports a Christian cross that has been tattooed atop the skin on her spine, cries of sacrilege could surely emerge. Especially in towns like mine north of the picturesque Ohio Valley. I like to say that if the South has been dubbed the “Bible belt,” we are the “Bible necktie” – the perfect noose of a silky representation of those façades that need to be loosed to let reality rear its beautiful head.
This gorgeously lush green area reminds me so much of the fictional Peyton Place at times – a book, movie and TV series based on real people in real New Hampshire towns. Some of the characters I’ve run across in plenty of my Christian circles over the years are way more concerned about outer appearances than inner truths. Sure, kill your father and bury his body under the sheep pen – as long as your skirt flows down your ankles, you’re good to go.
As a bondservant of Christ who tends to bare her soul a little more honestly in writings than others – though not always – I had to admit that “Oh Lord” scenarios have danced through my cerebral cortex during more than one occasion where I’ve begged Jesus to make love to me when I’ve felt a certain kind of [lonely, thirsty, baser] way. Therefore, one side of me knows I have no room to judge anyone harshly, and the other side prays not to justify sin. Admittedly, while I probably wouldn’t rock those shirts anytime soon, I seriously wouldn’t mind a swag bag full of their amazing-looking leggings.
Where do you stand on the issue of controversial clothing?
Poignant lyrics to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Express Yourself” keep circling about my brain lately regarding this issue, so I might as well write them here:
I wear the gear, yeah, I wanna wear, too
I don’t care, dear, go ‘head and stare (Oooh…)
Afraid to be you? Living in fear? (Boo!)
Expression is rare; I dare you!
“Good girls are bad girls that never get caught,” reads the tagline of the clothier. I tend to agree with that sentiment, as long as those who dress like saints don’t use it to look down their holy noses on those whom they feel wear whorish attire. The hypocritical fakers might find themselves outcast by their own saintly sisters when their secrets come out.
At the same token, if someone is broaching the subject of banned scandalous attire from a heart of love and perspective of respect for the wearer’s and onlookers’ love and safety, that’s an entirely different position of mercy and grace that I can understand.
What about you?
What’s your take on the issue of banning certain clothes in public places?