In 2022, female body shaming clearly remains pervasive and entrenched in our society. Just ask Florence Pugh, who received a barrage of digital abuse after wearing a tulle Valentino gown to the fashion house’s haute couture show in Rome last week. The sheer dress, designed by the brand's creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, covered her chest but left her breasts and nipples visible – a detail that riled a lot of people.
In an Instagram post dedicated to the dress – and its backlash – the actress acknowledged that she predicted unsolicited commentary. “Whether it be negative or positive, we all knew what we were doing,” she writes. But perhaps what wasn’t so expected was the offensive analysis, judging not the dress, but the size and shape of her body beneath.
“What’s been interesting to watch and witness is just how easy it is for men to totally destroy a woman’s body, publicly, proudly, for everyone to see,” she continues. “You even do it with your job titles and work emails in your bio..?”
As Pugh points out, “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 she notes “what’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be.” Commenters “aggressively” expressed how they were disappointed by her body and that she “should be embarrassed” by it. She not only calls this out but questions what it is they’re so threatened by.
“Why are you so scared of breasts? Small? Large? Left? Right? Only one? Maybe none? What. Is. So. Terrifying.”
While confidence in no way dictates vulnerability, the 26-year-old explains that she’s secure in her body, which clearly gives her strength to see this abuse for what it is. As much as spotlighting the social issue, this in turn could help others experiencing body shaming.
“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.” She also says: “I’m very grateful that I grew up in a household with very strong, powerful, curvy women. We were raised to find power in the creases of our body. To be loud about being comfortable. It has always been my mission in this industry to say ‘fuck it and fuck that’ whenever anyone expects my body to morph into an opinion of what’s hot or sexually attractive.”
Pugh adds that she wore the (beautiful) dress because she knows all this, and “if being loudly abusive towards women publicly in 2022 is so easy for you, then the answer is that it is you who doesn’t know”.
Her final message was of spreading due regard for people’s bodies, and their decision to dress them as they wish. “Grow up. Respect people. Respect bodies. Respect all women. Respect humans. Life will get a whole lot easier, I promise.”
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