“Bras in the parks, skivvies on Fifth Avenue: Is this the logical endpoint of increasingly blurred distinctions between public and private?”
— New York Times, 7/22/21
As a fashion critic, I’ve seen a few women in my day. As an intellectual, it is my job to descend on the streets of New York, find scantily clad women, and write about it in excruciatingly flowery detail.
I like my women like my op-eds, lacking any authority and covered head to toe in bullshit.
I knew I needed something eye-catching, fresh, and provocative for my next piece. We’ve already covered “Leggings, Oh My God,” as well as “Yoga Pants, That’s Disgusting.” It was time to step outside my comfort zone and push the boundaries of what a fashion critic can do.
Stomachs. Shoulders. Backs. All parts that women possess, or so I was told. But I knew I needed to find out for myself. Investigative journalism, if you will. I took to the streets, taking only my trusty assistant Gregor and an overworked taxi that carted us up and down St. Mark’s Place for six hours.
Boy, was I shocked. Let me preface this by saying that I know risque when I see it; I’ve been to Paris Fashion Week. What surprised me the most was the sight of normal, average-looking women who, for some bizarre, elusive reason, felt confident enough to parade down the street in tiny tops that hardly covered anything.
It couldn’t have been the weather. It was 96 degrees, and I was sweating through my 100% merino wool seersucker suit while Gregor fanned me and poured ice down my neck, but we all have to suffer once in a while. Summer in New York in an increasingly hot climate is not a good enough reason to bare your shoulders in public. No, there was a larger force at work here.
For the next three days, I sat in front of the blasting AC unit and called every expert I could think of who might be able to answer the question of “If I hate how I look without my entire body covered, why doesn’t everyone else feel the same way?”
“The weather,” they all mostly agreed. I was not convinced. I knew there was something more, and I also knew I needed to come up with something good fast if I wanted any of this bullshit to get published.
The end of privacy. Think about it, our deepest and darkest secrets are housed in our stomachs. Women keep all their secrets in their shoulders, and some even keep their secrets in their armpits. By exposing these parts to my photographer and me without their permission, they are signaling to the world that they poured ketchup in Lucy’s hair in 5th grade and they are proud of it.
Glancing up from my Harvest Bowl at Sweetgreen, I wiped an errant tear from my eye as I fixated on a woman walking down the street wearing a crop top and short shorts (I wrote that she was wearing nothing, but I totally lied). We locked eyes, and she flipped me off. It was then that I knew: this shit is gonna win me a Pulitzer.