Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Pyle: Ladies, please don’t hide your light under a burka

By George Pyle

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 21 2014 05:54 pm • Last Updated Feb 21 2014 06:01 pm

Beverly Sills, the great and earthy American opera singer, was once asked to explain why her husband had given her a T-shirt with a picture of actor Paul Newman on it.

"Every woman should have Paul Newman on her chest," she said, with a huge smile.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That, apparently, was not the sentiment of the famous-for-fifteen-minutes woman from Orem. The one who was so offended by a line of T-shirts featuring photos of scantily clad young women that she bought out the entire $600 stock found in one Utah County shop, lest the "pornography" emblazoned thereon poisoned the tender minds of young men.

The coverage of that story included verbal descriptions of the images on the shirts but, as far as I could see, no actual photos. Leaving many people to imagine visions that were much more explicit than the actual shirts.

Images can be found at the PacSun chain’s website, pacsun.com, by searching for the "Heartbreakers" designs from a line called "V/SUALS."

Sexy? You damn betcha. But barely, if at all, more ribald than the calendar girls who have graced the walls of garages and Army barracks for the last 70 years.

The glory of the human female form – which is, after all, the whole purpose of the last however many billion years of cosmic evolution — is all too often abused and profaned in popular culture. There are those who would sully women with representations of violence, captivity, rape, the victimization of children or other forms of degradation.

But pointing out that truly ugly stuff, and doing anything to limit its damage, is made infinitely more difficult when anything that is pleasantly erotic is rolled into the same category as vile misogyny or victimization.

The failure to differentiate Venus from Mars, sensuality from brutality, is also to blame for the crime of telling women, and men, that the appearance of an unashamedly beautiful woman in a public place constitutes an invitation to sexual violence. That’s a lie.

The world is not running such a surplus of beauty that it should encourage any woman to hide her light under a bushel, or a burka, lest she be slut-shamed by other women or brutalized by any men.


story continues below
story continues below

This is, necessarily, a guy’s point of view. A much more problematic issue is what girls, especially young girls, think. Images such as those in the new 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition are said to be harmful to some young women who sadly compare themselves to those visages and find themselves wanting.

That is a problem that can be difficult for many males to grasp. Though their are issues with such things a steroid abuse, not so many men and boys are moved to self-loathing or deep depression by the realization that their appearance will never rival the pictures of outrageously fit male athletes that appear on the cover of SI the other 51 weeks of the year.

The bodies chosen for such magazine covers, billboards and other pop culture images – male and female – are not displayed because we are all supposed to look like that. They are placed before us because they are fantastic, as in fantasy, a Platonic – or, perhaps, Michaelangelonic — ideal seldom realized by actual people.

Even those models don’t look like that when they roll out of bed in the morning, before they are set upon by an army of stylists and retouchers.

Wearing a Heartbreaker T-shirt to a middle or high school would be rude. It could indeed break the hearts of too many young women with body issues.

But in other contexts — and context is everything — such images celebrate the most beautiful accomplishment of the universe.

Don’t hide them away from the rest of the world.

George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, favors T-shirts that celebrate Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @debatestate



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.