Let’s stop shaming women for what they choose to wear

A story about a Filipino model in Singapore recently went viral, just because she was dressed ‘skimpily’. Singaporean media sites were calling her out and criticizing her for being ‘indecent’. What surprised me more was that when the story broke here in the Philippines, many of the comments chose to blame the girl for what she was wearing.

(READ: Filipina model is shamed for wearing a “skimpy outfit” in public)

People were questioning why she would wear something so revealing in the first place. They said she knew it would only lead to attention, or that maybe she wanted attention in the first place. All those detractors made me wonder why none of them had an issue with the anonymous photos taken, obviously without her consent and only for the reason to bash her. They were more concerned with being able to say what was right or wrong for this woman to do.

It begs the question, why is society so obsessed with dictating what a woman can and can’t wear? Showing too much skin makes her coarse but showing too little makes her a prude. There is an overt need to control what is deemed acceptable for women and it needs to stop.

A necessary caveat is that we’re not talking about professional workplaces or religious spaces that enforce a dress code for everyone and have a reason for doing so. This is just about the idea that there’s a standard of propriety women still have to adhere to in fashion when out in public, out with their friends, or whatever.

As long as you stay within what’s considered publicly decent (by legal standards), why should anyone have the ascendancy to tell you how to dress? There are still people who will look at you badly if you’re out at the mall and your shorts are “too short”. Some of your family members might even have you change your top if they think it’s too low cut or revealing. Even tank tops and sleeveless shirts are too risqué for others!

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But these same scathing standards are rarely applied to men. No matter how many buttons are left open on their polos, or how tight their shorts are, people hardly complain about it. Even my own university’s discipline office would never let me get away with wearing a skirt half an inch above the mandated length but would barely bat an eye when a male schoolmate’s shorts would reach his upper thighs.

Personal rants aside, it’s obvious to see that this kind of standard for clothing is only applied to women. As much as people want to excuse it by saying “we’re a conservative country”, the same just doesn’t hold true for men. It’s about time we stop telling women that their dresses have to be a little longer, their necklines a little higher, and their heels a little shorter.


Where do you stand on this issue?