Revealing clothing: How far is too far?

During the 12th century, Lady Godiva rode a horse through the streets of Coventry completely naked, covered only by her long hair. 

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Lady Godiva. (Painting by John Collier)

On 6 July 2019, South African TV personality Zodwa Wabantu wore a barely-there dress over a tiny thong that just about covered her lady bits. 

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Zodwa VDJ 2019 at the Greyville race course, Durban. (Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA))

While Lady Godiva stripped down in a bid to have crippling taxes lowered by her husband, Zodwa exposed herself for no apparent reason. 

Zodwa continuously pushes the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in terms of how you display your body. 

The reactions to her outfits, that borders on nudity, varies from “vulgar” to “bold”.

It’s an indication that there’s a great divide between the conservative and the open-minded – those who consider this type of behaviour to be socially unacceptable and those who embrace it. 

Regardless of the fact that we’re constantly bombarded with images containing nudity or scantily clan men and women through the media (including social media) it’s frowned upon to publicly expose yourself. 

If celebrities continue to push the boundaries by showing more and more flesh, they will soon be attending events naked. 

Is walking around wearing nothing but a micro piece of fabric barely covering your genital area not considered public indecency? 

Does being a celebrity make it okay?

Wabantu is by no means the first celebrity to attend an event practically naked. 

When Rose McGowan attended the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards she wore a “dress” made of strings of fine chains which showed her bare breasts and nipples but covering her pubic area with a dainty thong.

Rose - Revealing clothing: How far is too far?
Rose McGowan with Marilyn Manson at the 1998 MTV VMA Awards. (Instagram)

Amber Rose wore a similar dress to the 2017 MTV VMAs but at least her breasts were covered. 

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Wiz Khalifa, left, and Amber Rose arrive at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

In 2014 Rihanna wore nothing but a g-string panty underneath a sheer glittering fishnet dress to the CFDA Awards.

Model and reality star Kendall Jenner often steps onto the red carpet wearing sheer outfits while wearing nothing but a panty and clearly showing her nipples. 

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Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala. (Reuters)
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Kendall Jenner at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. (Reuters)

I asked a couple of men and women to share their views on celebs wearing barely-there outfits and posed the question: How far is too far? 

Pelisa Kobo (Graphic designer): I love what Zodwa is doing breaking boundaries and stereotypes, normalizing skin and dressing the way one wants to dress and not be scared what people will say or think. I find her brave. 

Marchelle Abrahams (Journalist): When in doubt, modesty is the best policy. If you’d asked me a few years ago before becoming a parent, I’d say let it all hang out! But now that I have two children I’m more mindful of the images that celebs put out there.

I understand that it’s your brand, but if you have real talent, showing off your nether regions will attract other kinds of attention.

Women have fought for years for equal pay, equal rights and the downfall of patriarchy. I just feel that showing off too much skin undoes all the hard work we’ve put in to be seen as equals.

Quinton Mtyala (Assistant Editor): At the end of the day celebrities push the envelope of what is deemed acceptable in South Africa from Lasizwe to Zodwa to Somizi and Babes Wodumo. If someone like Zodwa Wabantu had done what she is currently doing in the 1990s, politicians and the clergy would have been up in arms, calling for fire and brimstone. 

We can equally protect the right of Zodwa Wabantu to affirm herself as a grown woman as we protect express shock when a Muslim woman is threatened with dismissal from her job because she chooses the wear the hijab. 

At the end of it, nothing is TOO revealing. We’ve just sexualised (and dare I say, vulgarised) the human body.

Travis Arendse (Graphic Designer): Zodwa definitely went too far! I’ve never attended the Durban July but isn’t it meant to be glitz and glamour? What she wore was neither. Definitely the type of outfit you wear to a public event.

Mamusa Ndzeku (Production Editor): I am all about people being comfortable in their own skin but what Zodwa wore to the Durban July was ridiculous. It is too revealing and leaves nothing to the imagination

The youth look up to celebrities and tend to imitate what celebs do and wear. Next time Zodwa, or any other celeb, choose an outfit they should think about that. The young girls looking up to them to see what the next trend is.

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