Secrets Revealed

Recently an article appeared decrying the inability of famous girls to keep their clothes on. (What about the ones who aren’t famous?) The author noted that in the few weeks that just passed by there have been an unusually high number of wardrobe malfunctions, which are, as we know, occasions for averting the eyes. I do.

According to a variety of sources, a wardrobe malfunction occurs when, in theory, an article of clothing or just enough of an article of clothing inadvertently does not perform its duty in covering up that which should stay covered. The result is unacceptable breast display, excessive nipularity, side or bottom boobage, or any of the other well-known infractions, such as the whale tail, that necessitates an official throwing a red flag. Presumably which will then be used to cover up the bared flesh.

She enumerates these occasions thus:

*June 7: Khloe, one of the modest Kardashian girls who are famous for being famous, “flashed nippleage” on a TV interview.
*Aug 5: Nicki Minaj, a pop singer, had a halter top that “went rogue” live on “Good Morning America”, leading to excessive breastfulness, in stereo. Good morning indeed.
*Aug 7: Kelly Rowland, another pop singer, gave cause for concern when her “gyrating dance moves proved too much for her black bra-top,” which slipped upwards, generating underboobage at a concert in notoriously devout New Jersey.

(I will add that in early August a young Chinese pianist wore a very tight and very short little dress at a concert performance, and the music press is in a frenzy about how much of Yuja Wang was on display. It reminded me that on “Married with Children” the Kelly Bundy character was considered a slightly “trashy” young woman who favored short, tight and low-cut dresses. In one episode her dad Al refered to a dress she was wearing as ‘the belt.’ Clearly Ms Wang’s body parts were perused more assiduously than are the traffic lights in Los Angeles. Her piano performance was not what mattered; no indeed, all the talk was on how much higher her dress could possibly go. I am loathe to speculate.)

The article’s author goes back to Janet Jackson’s spot of bother (!) during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show with what’s-his-name, when the term “wardrobe malfunction” was coined. This phenomenon goes back quite a lot further than that. Some clothing historians cite a 1977 episode of “The Price is Right” as the first recorded occurrence, when an excited contestant jumped up and down, releasing a pair of sweater-puppies from their shelter. One could of course discuss the early days of cabaret and the timeless art of striptease, in which, of course, wardrobe malfunctions are intentional. My sources reveal, if that is the right term, that it was Cleopatra who started the trend while seducing Antony. I have examined exhaustively the archives of the ancient predecessor of YouTube, YouTubusPapyrus, and noted that her silken robe (34 times) and her sheer golden tunic (57 times) slipped down or off to reveal her womanly charms. To great advantage, I might add.

In around 1969, my high school home room teacher was Mr McEachern, and one day he felt the need to step up onto his soap box. That day his topic concerned what he saw as a disturbing trend in the amount of skin put on display when girls wore the new miniskirts. (Next to me at the time was a girl — her name will come to me in a minute — who was wearing a very short skirt that had, ahem, traveled up a healthy distance.) Mr McEachern made a wise observance, a caveat to young women, that being sexy was achieved “not by what you show, but by what you hide and suggest.” It must have been a wise and arcane observation, because all these years later I still don’t know what it means.

But I’m sure it has something to do with the idea that being a good girl involves keeping your clothes on.

Now, speaking as a married man, I am not allowed to look at any of these wardrobe infractions listed, nor am I allowed to learn more about them, try to find them somewhere on the Internet, or even see them in a reflection, as Harry Potter did. In most occasions, one must observe journalistic proprieties and a high degree of professional ethics, and report only on what one has seen or experienced personally, so on this subject I will stay at least at arms’s length and talk only about what I’ve read.

At the end of the article, the author sounds a bit like a nun or a strict school-marm, and admonishes girls to bind their breasts tightly, to wear only wool garments in several layers, and to go out in public only in turtlenecks. She strongly suggests that young women wear — at all times — bras like they were back in the World War II era, when they were made from the same materials as fighter aircraft.

Stop.

Everyone knows that at some point in a young woman’s development (and hopefully not too soon) she will discover boys, and find that she wants to attract their attention. And since we all learn eventually that the world revolves around sex — it’s on the covers of magazines, on TV, billboards, in movies and music videos, on the Internet, and even on your smart phone — we want to know more about it. And if you want to be like one of the zillions of girls and young women seen in all these magazines, on TV and in movies and music videos, you soon get the picture that displaying some flesh is obligatory. You will experiment with showing a little cleavage as soon as you can, and the distance between your knee and bottom of your dress or skirt will increase. It is a truth well known that the more you show the more notoriety and publicity you’ll generate, and the more buzz there will be about you, the more successful and rich and happy you’ll be.

Until the entertainment industry decides that sex does not sell, that attractive young women do not have to reveal some skin to become known and become popular and successful, or we all become nudists, get used to the idea that occasionally there will be wardrobe malfunctions, and some of them will be on purpose. I of course will not be looking.

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