FTLComm - Los Angels - February 28, 2000
It is a standard feature of award shows and Hollywood events for some starlet to show up in a "next to nothing" outfit, so much so that after each award the magazines feel a need to comment on the expose in some article that describes the best and worst dressed people to attend. I must admit I did not watch this year's Grammy awards and it wasn't until Thursday night when guest host of the David Letterman show Kathy Lee Gifford and a guest discussed "the dress" which the lady described as a scarf and they both considered the appropriateness of the garment.

These pictures were borrowed from the National Post who did a full page picture spread with commentary by fashion designers and sociologists dealing with both the fashion statement and what the wearing of this dress means in terms of our social context of this era.

A topic like this one needs to be talked about because most people who wear outfits like this to public events do so because their body is what they are selling, but in this case Jennifer Lopez is one of the most talented young performers to come along in a long time.

Already established as a solid and serious dramatic actress with several movies but her portrayal of the Mexican singer who was murdered was a remarkable work. Now Ms. Lopez has established herself as a major performer and singer in her own right and her performances have demonstrated that she is one of these multitalented characters who come along every so often, singer, dancer, actress all in one. She doesn't need to wear a skimpy outfit to be noticed.

Fashion critics have pointed out that this dress is pretty much a "now" statement. Women's clothing has always emphasised the sexual differences and among them waist. breasts and bottoms have been the big sellers. This dress emphasises all three and as Kathy Lee pointed out Jennifer Lopez is no skinny model but a physically fit well proportioned female.

You may have heard actress Sarah Michelle Geller discuss this issue on more then one interview. Geller, who plays the part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is extremely aware of the part she plays as a role model for young girls who are avid fans of her television series. She has on many occasions pointed out that growing up for a young woman is really hard and there is a need for some people to point the way and give vent and license to the needs of these young people The British teeny bop music group the Spice Girls have echoed these same sentiments and even put messages in their songs about "girl power". Singer super star Shania Twain knows full well the importance of her role and how she herself needs to keep herself aware of what it means to be a young woman in today's world.

What I am suggesting is that there is a distinct possibility that performers of this era know the effect they have on others and are establishing a sort of societal definition for themselves and others.

We (all people) have endured an enormous amount of sexual exploitation in this century and yet only this week, eight-three years ago, Ontario woman were given the right to vote. Women and their bodies have been used to sell everything you can think of and so much of the time they have been made to consider themselves as a consumable product. Ask yourself this, if Brad Pitt wore an outfit open below his navel, with no back and semi transparent, would it be anything but a nod.
Because Lopez is a woman, revealing a portion of her chest and midriff is considered somewhat extreme tells us that woman and their position in society has still a long way to go. I believe that Jennifer Lopez was sending us all a message. She feels good about herself. She is fit and strong, she had decided to tackle the world on her terms and that is pretty much that. Only a few years ago the Chicago singer, and also multitalented star Madonna Giconni sent the world a similar message and was shunned by the power makers because she threatened the status quo. One of the best musicals made for movies ever was Madonna's Evita yet it was overlooked by Oscar nominations and awards. Giconni is an upstart and it was necessary for the establishment to put her in her place.

But upstarts are what make the world change. When you consider that in much of North America it is illegal for a woman to appear in public without clothing on her upper body you have to realise that getting the right to vote was only a small step. When the government of Iran was overthrown and religious leaders assumed control there they immediately imposed strict laws about how women dressed. The issue was not their clothes, it was their rights and role in society that was being curtailed.

Women of today, little girls of today, all are faced with resting from this world an appropriate place that will give them respect, self esteem and self worth. When you consider that strip joints even exist, you realise that there is serious repression and societal discomfort with the role sex plays in society and the attitudes that are confused.

By: Timothy W. Shire