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Mythbusters for the Trend of More Skin and Fewer Clothes
육준엽  |  yook9311@naver.com
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[120호] 승인 2013.03.18  
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These days will surely be remembered in the distant future as a golden age for those who look for ‘more skin and fewer clothes.’
Yes. This is the era of ‘more skin.’ Turn on TV and keep switching channels to find some advertisements. Are models on TV ads covered with clothes from head to toe? You will hardly find such case. Glamorous girls are wearing sexy dresses and holding bottles of beer. This is one of the typical scenes that mesmerize your eyes on today’s TV ads.

Likewise, clothes with a great deal of body exposure, such as bikinis, tank tops and shorts have already become parts of the ongoing popular fashion trend. That is, not only TV and movie celebrities but also the public enjoys wearing these ‘skin-exposing’ clothes.

Is there something wrong about more skin and fewer clothes?

▲ Hyun-a, a femous Korean idol, is well known for her skin-exposing costumes
Wait a second. The story goes a bit different here. This ongoing popularity of ‘more skin’ is not that welcomed by everyone. For example, let us remember the recent saga of Hyun-ah’s soju advertisement. Hyun-ah, a famous Korean female idol, appeared on an online soju advertisement made for adults above the age of 19. Then, what happened? Since the advertisement could be seen online without any specific age limits, parent groups protested against its further access. As a result, Hyun-ah’s soju ad was put off from the screen earlier than originally scheduled (what a bad news…for her male fans). This is not the only case. Let us rewind the clock for another example. In 2004, Janet Jackson had her left breast exposed on a Super Bowl half-time concert. She was fined 550,000 dollars for conducting misbehavior.

As you have noticed, the trend of exposing more skin and wearing fewer clothes faces some unfavorable views. Those who uphold such negative claims criticize this trend as a by-product of sexuality’s modern commercialization. They also insist that it has negative impacts on today’s society. What makes them think so? They claim that the ‘skin-exposing’ trend increases sex crimes and stimulates the demands for prostitution and pornography. Does the era of ‘more skin’ mean the corruption of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’?

▲ Three western women sunbathing in short tops and bikinis in Cheonggyecheon
The thing is that many of us do not know exactly the backgrounds of these claims. Nor do we know whether they can be verified or not. Therefore, throughout this section of The UOS Times, we have arranged ‘mythbusters’ for the current skin-exposing trend. It is time to sort out the truth and false.


The trend of more skin and fewer clothes; is this something newborn?

▲ Description of a typical Spartan woman wearing skin-exposing clothes
Here comes the first mythbuster. It is widely believed that the trend of more skin and fewer clothes is a symbol of today’s commercialized sexuality. Therefore, those in favor of this view insist on somehow restricting this trend to preserve good old morals with ‘more clothes and less skin.’ However, this is a myth to be busted.

For instance, Spartan girls used to wear clothes which nearly exposed their thighs or one of their breasts. They even put on nothing when they participated in sports activities or religious rituals. They did so to try to express confidence about their physical strength, which was one of the most important traits in Spartan society.
Another example can be found in the Joseon dynasty. In the Joseon era, it was not an offence for women to wear short-length tops that showed their breasts. They did this to feed their children outside or even while doing house chores. Wearing such clothes meant that they already had male children to breastfeed, which was a big pride in such a patriarchal society. For Joseon women, breasts did not signify something sexual.

The Spartan case demonstrates that the trend of more skin and fewer clothes even existed in the old days. Of course, some may argue that even in Sparta, skin-exposing clothes meant the selling power of Spartan women’s sexual attractiveness ? in other words, its commercialization. However, the Joseon case strikes back. It indicates that depending on social norms, the perception and the meaning of body exposure can differ from society to society and from time to time.


▲ Two different Joseon women wearing tops that nearly expose their breasts
Does more skin really increase sex crimes?

Then, another mythbuster enters the ring. It has been widely argued that the trend of more skin and fewer clothes is likely to expose women to the danger of sex crimes. It is because, according to such opinions, women’s short tops and skirts trigger the sexual desire of a possible sex criminal. Are skin-exposing clothes as dangerous as they have been blamed before? The answer is NO.

It is because; the belief that more skin causes sex crimes means that women themselves are responsible for being targeted in sexual assaults. However, many sex crime cases show that sex criminals have problems in recognizing sexual content in appropriate sexual relationships. Moreover, recent studies in the field of criminal psychology indicate that sex criminals also encounter difficulties in controlling emotions of anxiety and anger (Shannon Lynn Vettor, 2011). Even though it has not been confirmed whether or not sex criminals share common psychological problems, somehow most of them have distorted sexist attitudes and emotional instability.

Likewise, possible sex crime targets are not only confined to young women with skin-exposing clothes. Throughout numerous criminological researches, it has been discovered that female children, female adolescents and old women can be easily chosen as targets in sex crimes. In reality, women aged above 40 years old account for about 20 percent of the overall sex crimes committed between 2002 and 2006 in Korea (Heo Seon-hee, 2008). Do women in their 40s and 50s wear shorts or tank tops when going out? You got the wrong point. They represent one of the most conservative consumer forces of the fashion market. That is, female victims in sex crime cases, in their 40s and 50s, are not assaulted because of the way they get dressed. It goes the same way for children. They are chosen as targets in sex crimes because they can be physically suppressed more easily than ordinary adult women.

Taking all these into consideration, the ‘skin-exposing’ trend cannot be considered the single cause of sex crimes. The skin-exposing fashion does not cause sex crimes, since they can be mainly attributed to sex offenders’ lack of emotional control and sex recognition. In addition, even children and old women can be victimized in sex crimes. Skin-exposing clothes do not necessarily put people in the danger of sex crimes. Mythbusted!


▲ Do skin-exposing clothes really fuel a man’s sexual desire for prostitution and pornography?
More skin = More prostitution and more porn consumptions?

The last mythbuster is coming. Some people argue that the trend of more skin and fewer clothes trigger the demands for prostitution and pornography. They believe that as people appear more frequently in bikinis or tank tops, prostitution and pornography businesses will be booming.

Do men really go for a prostitute after they see women in miniskirts or tank tops on the streets? This is also a sexist claim that undermines ordinary men’s self-restraint for appropriate sexual relationships. If all men feel the sex drive after wandering on the streets on a hot summer day, the red light district would be crowded and porn downloads would be skyrocketing. However, many psychological studies show that consumers in such businesses do not find motivations from seeing women in short tops or bottoms. A substantial portion of these people look for unusual sexual experiences, which they cannot easily find in reality (Shannon Lynn Vettor, 2011). Moreover, prostitution and pornography industries see the biggest demand increase during the winter season. Do people still hang around in shorts or tank tops during winter? No, no, no.


A good way for self-satisfaction, but be careful when you wear skin-exposing clothes

We have tried to solve out some myths about the trend of more skin and fewer clothes. Yes, the aforementioned mythbusters let you know that this trend has a long history, with different viewpoints about skin-exposing in each type of society. Moreover, they also show that you are not likely to commit sex offences or look for a prostitute after seeing women ? or men, in some cases ? in short tops or bottoms. As we have busted the myths, we came to a conclusion that the trend of more skin and fewer clothes is not as inappropriate as originally perceived.

However, we have to be reminded that such trend may have a negative consequence, if it crosses the line. If skin-exposing clothes appear more frequently on TV without any proper discretion about them, adolescents may begin to underestimate the importance of their bodies, as they try to use them only for expressions of self-satisfaction (Jang Hee-Soon, Kim Tae-Ryeon, 2006). Yes, bodies are good canvases for expressions of human emotions. However, reckless ‘skin-exposing’ may teach young people the wrong way to use their bodies for self-expression, such as streaking (running in nudity through public places). That is why we need proper education to teach adolescents about how to avoid abusing self-expression with skin-exposing clothes. Moreover, to do so, we should refrain from spoiling the trend of skin-exposing into something like pornography.

Bodies are good canvases for expressing your identity. Wearing skin-exposing clothes is also one of the ways for such self-expression. However, only thoughtful artists can make nice artworks from them.


Sources

Ingelore Ebberfeld, How Women Seduce Men, 2007
Paul Cartledge, The Spartans - An Epic History, 2003
Shannon Lynn Vettor, "Offender Profiling: A Review, Critique,
and an Investigation of the Influence of Context, Perception, and Motivations on Sexual Offending", 2011
Heo Seon-hee, "A Research on Prevention of Sex Crimes and Second Offense", 2008
Jang Hee-Soon, Kim Tae-Ryeon, "The Effect of Mass Media on Body Perception
and State Esteem of Body Image", 2006


Yook Jun-yeop Reporter
yook9311@uos.ac.kr

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