People who police women’s bodies for sport have certainly been active over the past few days, as actor Florence Pugh proved when she stepped out at Valentino’s haute couture show in Rome this week wearing a sheer pink dress from the house.
On Monday, Pugh took to Instagram to defend herself against criticism for—gasp!—showing her body, writing in part, “It isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time a woman will hear what’s wrong with her body by a crowd of strangers, [but] what’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be. Thankfully, I’ve come to terms with the intricacies of my body that make me me. I’m happy with all of the ‘flaws’ that I couldn’t bear to look at when I was 14.”
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In the past, I’ve tended to roll my eyes when conventionally attractive, thin celebrities make statements about facing body backlash—after all, they’re rich and famous! Aren’t they supposed to have everything and never deal with quotidian problems like being routinely harassed and sexualized? Right now, though, I’m regretting that impulse because Pugh’s Instagram caption is spot-on. Unfortunately, it appears there’s no amount of fame or wealth that can protect you from being turned into an avatar for other people’s insecurities.
Listen, maybe it’s the fall of Roe or the unpleasant entreaties that were leveled at me by a random man at the gas station the last time I went to fill up my tank; maybe it’s the fact that every woman I know is all too familiar with doing the quick mental calculus of “Do I stand up for myself when random men yell cruel things at me, or do I stay silent and keep myself safe?”
Whatever it is, I’m just in no mood to excuse adult men for attacking a young woman so viciously that she feels the need to defend herself for wearing a dress. Pop quiz for any men reading this: Have you left a woman alone to live her life today? If so, could you do it more? If not, could you try to internalize the idea that other people’s actions aren’t about you and don’t require your sign-off? Cool. Thanks!