Posing elegantly in the banquet hall of the Odd Fellows Mansion, Copenhagen, hand placed confidently on her hip and dressed in a floor length black gown, 20-year-old student Nikita Klæstrup instantly grasped the attention of the worldwide media when she attended the Danish Young Conservatives’ 110 year anniversary.
So why did this young woman, who is currently a rhetoric student at the University of Copenhagen, attract such interest at this event? Was it because of her stance as an aspiring conservative politician? Her participation in political debates? Her role as Deputy Chairperson of party youth movement, Young Conservatives?
The internet was thrown into a frenzy because of Nikita’s cleavage.
Nikita attended the formal event wearing a dress which had quite a risqué neckline, exposing bare skin on her waist and between her breasts. Given the fact that she is a very attractive girl, the media reported on her attire with headlines such as “Politics is about to get sexy”.
The Danish media immediately became infatuated with Nikita’s physical attributes, as opposed to her involvement in politics, with TV and radio hosts referring to her ‘side-boobs’ as opposed to her role in the Young Conservative Party.
However, the attention Nikita has been receiving has not just been praise for her good looks, as she has come under heavy criticism from those who believe that her choice of dress was inappropriate and too provocative.
This situation once again throws light on the long-fought debate – If a woman wears a sexy outfit, is she displaying female empowerment, or is she going against everything feminists have fought for by sexualising herself?
This particular debate is far from straight forward.
Undoubtedly, we do live in a society where women often feel the need to sexualise themselves. Whether they want to catch the attention of a guy, or because they think it’s a more attractive look, some girls believe that the shorter the hemline, the better. And this really is no surprise, looking at the role models young girls are now looking up to.
Singers such as Ariana Grande and US girl band Fifth Harmony first arrived onto the music scene with a wholesome, girl-next-door image, yet since hitting the big time, they are regularly seen (and are criticised for) appearing in music videos in scantily clad attire.
To simply judge these women would be completely unfair and ignorant, as more often than not, these female stars are being controlled like puppets by a management company who care less about respecting females and more about how much cash they can rake in – and as they say, sex does sell.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini recently spoke out about how during her time in Girls Aloud, she was often forced to wear clothes which made her feel uncomfortable.
“The music industry is dominated by men behind the scenes, and older men too,” the singer told Stella magazine. “I mean, sexy and all is great, but you shouldn’t have to sexualise yourself to be selling music.”
Without a doubt, the sexual manipulation of women in cases such as this should in no way be tolerated, and females need to resist the pressure of exposing themselves in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable just because they are trying to please someone else, or because they think it is a vital ingredient to success.
However, those on the other side of this debate also come under an equal amount of fire, as seen in Nikita’s case. If a woman does wear an outfit that exposes too much flesh, she is branded as a slut, as someone who has nothing to offer other than her appearance, and is given the shameful title of a woman who goes against feminist teachings.
Personally, I consider this mentality to be just as disgraceful as putting pressure on women to dress in a sexual manner.
Some people say that women who wear revealing clothes are going against feminism, that they are bowing to the pressures of the men who want to see them dress a certain way.
But believe it or not, it is possible for a woman to dress sexually because it makes HER feel good about herself, not because she wants to please someone else. And if this is the reason a woman is dressing this way, then I think it is an inspiring example of female empowerment, as it shows that she is proud of her own body, and doesn’t give a damn about anyone else’s opinion on it.
Feminism is supposed to be about fighting for the equal rights of women, for them to have the freedom to express themselves in any way they wish. Yet when a woman dresses provocatively by choice, because it makes her feel confident, feminists are the first to tear her down. I see this as being completely hypocritical, as there is no female solidarity in slut shaming.
The fact that the topic of what women should and should not wear is even up for discussion in the 21st century is something which I quite find disappointing.
Given the fact that feminism has come so far in so many other areas, it really is a shame that our society is still debating how women should be branded based on their clothing.
Whether someone prefers to cover themselves from head to toe or wear a short, low-cut dress, it is the decision of the individual woman, and her choice is something which she does not need to justify – nor does it determine her personality or moral values.
Lisa O’ Donnell