fashion

"Am I a prude for feeling like these red carpet dresses are inappropriate?"

Warning: Partially naked ladies ahead.

Last weekend, I was at a music festival in Bendigo, Victoria.

Given the weather forecast was an ‘I might lose my toes’ 11 degrees, I presumed most of the people attending would resemble gigantic marshmallows. I borrowed my brother’s fleece denim jacket and popped my black jeans on. I made a special trip to Sportsgirl to buy some knitted gloves, a beanie, and a backpack to carry all my ‘in case of hypothermia’ layers around.

You literally could not find a more covered woman if you tried.

And that’s why I felt like a smug, old, judgemental, boring nun when I saw girls wander past wearing nothing but love-heart stickers on their nipples and body chains.

One girl had cut an entire leg of her jeans out to expose her g-string and, therefore, her left bum cheek and immaculate bikini-line wax.

Another woman was wearing a necklace as a bra with a set of bejewelled undies to match.

Sure, these scantily-clad women looked like whimsical fairies. They weren’t all waif-like, either. The free the nipple crew was as diverse as the marshmallow women. I saw one woman paint a huge, glittery smiley across her belly and stretch marks. She looked mesmerising.

But.

As the barely-clothed women walked by – and there were hundreds of them – I couldn’t help but feel sad. Here we were, in icy-cold temperatures, and every man was donned in winter gear. Sturdy boots and warm coats. Jumpers. Thermals.

The only people at that festival who felt the need to bare their chests, bums and thighs were the people with fallopian tubes.

Many of those women were so cold they left the festival early.

I felt that same sadness when I saw Kendall Jenner’s latest “naked dress” red carpet look, where her areolas were the statement accessory this weekend.

The 22-year-old model was attending the Chopard Party at the Cannes Film Festival (I hear it was “secret” and trés fancy) and she was, well, a fingernail away from being stark naked. Her ‘dress’ was little more than a piece of sheer, metallic fabric pinned together, carefully draped over her bare chest and seamless g-string.

Kendall Jenner attends Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. (Image: Getty)
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The sight of that chain mesh on bare nipples is enough to make you clutch a tube of Bepanthen.

Nakedness on red carpets is by no means new. Madonna has been operating in shock value for decades. Everyone from Beyonce to Bella Hadid has played with nakedness on the MET Gala red carpet.

Just a few examples of nakedness on red carpets in the last few years. From left to right: Madonna, Bella Hadid, Beyonce, Rihanna. (Images: Getty)

And yet, it's rare to see a man's biceps exposed when he poses for photographers. Men's bodies are not the focal point of any glamorous event, really. Their chests and groins are almost always encased in thick, warm, opaque material, disguised from the public eye. There are no 'naked suits'. There are no rogue ball sacks or bum cracks to make the top trending list on Twitter.

Perhaps I am writing this because I am, at 24, a bit of a prude. Perhaps I grimace when I see a naked woman in a public space, simply because I feel that level of exposed flesh is inappropriate. Perhaps I struggle with these images of women because I myself would never feel comfortable or confident in a set of nipple tassels.

If you are a woman who would readily strut in front of a crowd naked, you might tell me these photographs are simply evidence of great body confidence and self love.

I just struggle to see them that way.

If looking sexy means wearing a full suit for men, but being almost-naked for women, then I feel incredibly uncomfortable with that.

When the overwhelming majority of men don't feel the need to strip down and bare all, I can't feel positively towards the 'naked dress' trend. When it is only women who wind up cold, uncomfortable, and fetching a missing g-string out of their bum cracks, there is something larger at play.

Women - actresses, musicians, reality stars, the girls attending countryside music festivals - are experts in weaponising nakedness. Only it's not quite clear what any of us are fighting with our goosebumps and flesh.

When Ryan Reynolds, Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake step out in a naked suit, their glittery nipples on proud display, perhaps I'll change my mind.

Does hating the naked dress trend make me a prude, or a bad feminist? Let me know in the comments...

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