Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Can See Your Underwear!

For the longest time I have held the belief that Chinese people, who so love to copy western fashion would not take to the idea of exposing their undergarments like many youths in America seem to think is so fashionable these days.

I am now convinced I must revise my opinion. And not on the basis of winter apparel but of what appears to be considered fashion this summer.

I’m bringing winter garb into the picture because it is not uncommon for women to go about in form-revealing tights and figure hugging tops during the colder months. They are a bit bulky because those articles of clothing are fur- or microfiber lined. Nevertheless the woman’s figure is clearly depicted although not an inch of bare flesh is visible. To make the visual easier, think ‘Cat Woman suit’ and you’ll have the right idea.

This discussion has to do with the ongoing breakdown of what, till now, has been considered acceptable by this society and its government.  

While I don’t project males adopting the ‘sag’ look anytime soon, it seems women’s fashions subtly encourage the flash of a bra strap… or even the whole bra. This summer, in China, fashion means wearing see through garments, net meshed tops or open backed apparel. All allow for a generous display of lingerie beneath.

On more than one occasion, while running the streets of Wuhan recently I’ve seen women wear dresses so sheer as to be completely see-through, and they were not wearing a slip underneath. Not only in Wuhan but also in Xi’an was this trend noticeable. It is not uncommon at all to see a black bra under a light colored blouse, or brightly colored panties under a light colored skirt. Twice while in Hanzhou and Wenzhou I saw women who were wearing a top with net meshed back. One was wearing a black bra underneath and the other woman wore a red bra that screamed against the whiteness of her skin.

I wonder if it is an intentional fashion statement or a fashion faux pas on the part of the female? Is it supposed to be sexy?

Whether by mistake or design, it certainly makes a statement on the liberation of females in China. Whereas before, women’s clothes were sexy by virtue of what they conceal, now they seem racy because of what they show. Form fitting silk garments with high necks that highlighted the sleekness of their figure have been cast aside. Gone is the modesty that has dictated their wardrobe choices till now. And apparently the government’s call for modesty and virtue, as well.

Still, I wonder. Traditionally, the Chinese home does not boast a plethora of full-length mirrors and the lighting is not that great. A woman may well dress in something that might be considered light and frothy,  socially acceptable and be absolutely unaware that she is out and about, appearing unclad once in direct sunlight. Or, at least, not sufficiently clad. That might explain women going forth in see-through clothing with their undergarments plainly visible.

Or, it may just be that women intend to walk around with their underwear plainly visible.

As for the deliberately revealing clothing, one can reason that if the store sells such apparel there must be a measure of approval on the part of society and, if that particular garment is selling well, there must be a demand for it. That might help explain the sudden surge of exposed flesh.

If women are going to wear open backed tops, why wear a wide strapped, 4-hook bra underneath? Doesn’t that take away from the effect? If the top is open backed, shouldn’t the exposed back be bare? Wouldn’t that be sexier?

Am I just an old fuddy-duddy?

I recall the days where Madonna and Cher pranced all over the stage in venues from coast to coast in their mesh-netted clothing and barely there underwear. Well, barely there in Cher’s case. In Madonna’s case the underwear was most definitely there, with foot-long spikes jutting from the cups of her bra. But Madonna and Cher, among others, are performers whose acts are choreographed to shock their audience. These women in China are not of such an ilk. I presume they are women like every other woman who may or may not be married, may or may not have a job, a child, and elderly parents to care for. They may well be ignorant to the fact that walking around, exposing a wide, 4-hook bra strap is not really sexy so much as trashy… at least in my opinion.

How far is this going to go? Is Chinese fashion going to go so far as “People of Walmart” style – where people wear whatever they feel like and to the devil with societal acceptance/approval of such choices? Or will the Chinese government step in and start regulating the fashion industry, as they did the media and communications industry when television started showing too many ‘self-absorption’ programs and not enough programming that promoted virtue and morals that more closely reflect this country’s culture?

Who can say? Not me. what I can tell you is that I find this trend disturbing.

Don’t you? 


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