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  • Robert Farago

If Women Want to Walk Around Half-Naked...

So what?

Why do so many young women in Austin walk around dressed in skin-tight yoga pants and crop tops? They sure didn’t do that when I was a whipper snapper, back when hair was big and bottoms had bells...

A woman who appeared in public with such little clothing was considered, uh, provocative. In any place other than bad parts of town, it didn’t happen.

Sure, young women would “dress up” (i.e. down) for a party or a night at the disco. But they didn’t go grocery shopping in barely-there beach or workout wear.

Fair disclosure: I spent my formative years in the most Catholic state in these here United (Rhode Island). A state in a region where the weather makes an Austin minimalist outfit an invitation to frostbite for five months of the year.

Over the years, I’ve lived in four states and two countries and seen clothing standards – if that’s the right word – change. Most prominently and powerfully in the pre-social media media.

Remember: there used to be just three TV channels. An actress’ fashion (if we’re going to call it that) on the CBS sitcom One Day At A Time had a huge impact on street level fashion.

A famous inflection point in the cultural move from fuddy-duddy to hyper-sexuality: Braniff Airline’s ads.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

As above, the ads ended with the tag-line “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” An expression that entered the popular lexicon (increasing Braniff’s business by 80 percent).

Celebratory and respectful, or lascivious and predatory?

The message from the Mad Men (i.e., the patriarchy) was both “liberated” and self-serving: we’re not going judge you for expressing your sexuality. You go girl!

Like all trendy tag-lines, “if you got it, flaunt it” fell out of favor. Its disappearance reflected a sea change in women’s attitudes. “We don’t need you to tell us how to dress.”

The lamentable musical remakeThe Producers revived the expression – for laughs. When Uma Thurman belts-outWhen You Got It Flaunt It in the worst Swedish accent ever, it’s supposed to be a joke. You know, ironic.

The Producers hit the big screen in 2005, a year before the #metoo movement hit the headines. And that was the end of that.

Today, there’s no way could you advise a beautiful woman “when you got it flaunt it” without being labeled a misogynist. Not to mention insensitive to the beauty challenged.

And yet, there they are, on the streets, flaunting it. Proudly expressing their strength? Fitness? Independence?

I’m open to any and all non-sexual interpretations of this notable lack of attire, especially from a woman’s perspective. Here’s one I contemplated earlier…

Near-Naked Narcissism?

Pakistani actress Sadia Khan (above) says today’s women’s skimpy attire is a sign that they’re narcissists.

According to Ms. Kahn, women post a pic on social media or a dating app and BA-BAM! They get immediate validation from hundreds if not thousands of men.

At the same time they come to believe they’re hot shit, feminism convinces them that they’re not to blame for any poor choices.

“They don’t take any accountability,” Ms. Khan pronounces in her TikTok video.

Ironically, these women see men as narcissists – for failing to do anything and everything to soothe their fragile egos.

Bottom line? Young women are seeking endless validation from men for whom they have no respect.

Anything Goes?

Ms. Kahn reckons the near-nakedness epidemic represents a shift from old school flirtation to outright aggression. Here I am, in all my glory. What makes you think you deserve me?

It’s not so much “anything goes” as “go fuck yourself.” If you’re not good enough for me, there are plenty of men ready to give me the validation I need.

“Unfortunately we have an online market that caters to that wounded woman,” Ms. Khan laments, “that caters to that entitled woman, that caters to that narcissistic woman.”

Are Today’s Women Narcissists?’s 15 Female Narcissist Traits, Characteristics, and Warning Signs asserts that “some narcissists are created as a result of excessive praise.”

That certainly fits the egocentric social media feedback loop Ms Khan describes. As does the warning that “She’ll go out of her way to be seen, e.g., by frequently posting racy photos on Instagram.”

Using happierhuman’s analysis, a case could be made that women adopting the “don’t stare at, criticize or comment on my sexualization” are displaying classic narcissistic passive-aggression.

Wedding Bells vs. Alarm Bells

Assuming that Ms. Kahn isn’t wrong – that society has created a generation of narcissistic women for whom no level of real world validation will suffice – is it any wonder that long-term relationships are as rare as revealing clothing is common?

Since 1970, the marriage rate has fallen by nearly 60 percent. Anecdotally, half of the single men I hang with aren’t even dating. The majority of the rest are either serial “fuck boys” or disillusioned romantics.

I hope the pendulum swings back the other way. That young women get off the social media ego-boosting bullet train and gain a stronger sense of self-worth.

That kind of “liberation” would bless them with a greater appreciation for the “give” part of a give-and-take real world relationship.

By the same token, I’d like to see a return to clothing that flatters a woman’s physical charms while still forcing men to use their imagination. Thereby encouraging them to focus on other equally if not more important attributes.

Social media may not reward a modicum of modesty, but the right kind of man will. If that even matters.

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