Ever since the Disney film came out when I was four years old, I’ve loved the character of Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. My mom wouldn’t let me see the movie because it “didn’t follow the book”, but that didn’t stop me from adoring the gypsy princess from afar. I actually even wanted to change my name to Esmeralda and was thrilled to find out that the meaning of my first and middle name was equivalent to hers. (My middle name means “cheerful, shining, bright”; the name Esmeralda means “bright hope”.) My middle-school youth group leader still cracks jokes about the time I introduced myself as Esmeralda at the beginning of my 6th grade year, and continues to jokingly call me “Esma”, a rather unglamorous nickname I subsequently derived.
This outfit actually reminds me quite a bit of the ensemble Esmeralda wore in the Disney movie: purple skirt, gold jewelry, off-the-shoulder blouse. With the rise of midriff-revealing tops on this season’s style scene, I’ve been thinking a lot about social perceptions concerning fashion. A couple of years ago, anything that showed the stomach would be given the cold shoulder and immediately connoted with Britney Spears-worthy cheapness. Today’s mode for showing stomach however is much more tasteful and fashion (instead of sexually) oriented. Whether worn with retro pinup attire or effortlessly done in a bohemian manner, fashion bloggers all over the world and rockin’ the bare midriff in a completely un-slutty way.
I think this really goes to show that showing a particular area of your body is mostly a society-oriented (instead of objectively-oriented) matter. In India, women of every social class reveal their midriffs; in the Middle East showing the bridge of one’s nose can often be considered objectionable. Just take a look at the American culture! A hundred years ago, showing one’s ankle was thought to be questionable and the collarbone and shoulders could only be revealed after 3:00 p.m. Today’s conservative Mennonite ensembles would have been considered objectionable!
Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now; just thought that might be something interesting for y’all to think about.