Florence Pugh reflects on sheer Valentino dress uproar: ‘How can my nipples offend you that much?’

Florence Pugh has reflected on the backlash she received this summer when she decided to wear a sheer Valentino dress and was immediately hit with criticism from body shamers.

The Don’t Worry Darling star recently appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine’s January 2023 issue, where she spoke candidly about the moment she wore a transparent pink Valentino gown to the label’s haute couture show in Rome last July.

The tulle sheer dress showed off Pugh’s nipples, but the British-born actor said it’s the problem of body shamers if they were offended.

“I’ve never been scared of what’s underneath the fabric,” she told Vogue. “If I’m happy in it, then I’m gonna wear it. Of course, I don’t want to offend people, but I think my point is: How can my nipples offend you that much?”

When Pugh uploaded pictures of the sheer fashion moment to Instagram – with the caption, “Technically they’re covered?” – the star received a flood of “vulgar” comments. Pugh promptly addressed the criticism in a separate Instagram post, after “so many of you wanted to aggressively let me know how disappointed you were by my ‘tiny t***’, or how I should be embarrassed by being so ‘flat chested’”.

Pugh told her critics that “not a wink of me was nervous” to wear the gown “before, during or even now after” being bodyshamed.

“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 wrote, adding, “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. What’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be.”

Pugh added how she’s comfortable with “the intricacies of my body” and content with “all of the ‘flaws’ I couldn’t bear to look at when I was 14”, before calling out her critics.

“I’ve lived in my body for a long time. I’m fully aware of my breast size and am not scared of it,” she wrote. “What’s more concerning is… Why are you so scared of breasts? Small? Large? Left? Right? Only one? Maybe none? What. Is. So. Terrifying.”

While Pugh has addressed the backlash to her sheer Valentino dress on more than one occasion, the Little Women star maintains that the widespread backlash to her breasts reflects a dominant culture in which women’s bodies are still being policed.

“It’s very important that we do this,” she told Vogue. “I know that some people might scoff at me saying that, but if a dress with my breasts peeking through is encouraging people to say, ‘Well, if you were to get raped, you would deserve it,’ it just shows me that there’s so much more work to do.”

It’s not just on the red carpet where Pugh continues to defy the expectations of women in the entertainment industry. The 27-year-old actor also emphasised that she’d never change her body for a movie role.

“I’m never losing weight to look fantastic for a role,” Pugh said. “It’s more like: How would this character have lived? What would she be eating?”

Just one month after Pugh wore the sheer Valentino pink gown, the Midsommar actor reflected on the criticism she experienced in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. Pugh acknowledged in the interview that she knew her outfit choice was going to be a major talking point, but she still found the response to her dress to be “alarming”.

“I was comfortable with my small breasts. And showing them like that - it aggravated [people] that I was comfortable,” she said at the time. “It was just alarming, how perturbed they were. They were so angry that I was confident, and they wanted to let me know that they would never w**k over me. Well, don’t.”

Fellow actors and friends rallied around Pugh amidst the backlash, including Jameela Jamil, Joey King, Stephanie Shepherd, Aubrey Plaza, and Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page.

Page re-posted Pugh’s response to the criticism on his Instagram story, and encouraged his male followers to “read the caption” and reflect on their own attitudes towards women.

“Read the caption. Take a look at yourself fellas.Then take a look at your mates and step up when it’s time to step up. When the boys are out of line, have a word,” he wrote, before adding that the “weird thing about misogyny is men actually listen to other men”.

Page then reiterated in an interview with Variety that it “was easy” to stand up for Pugh because she had made a “really good point”.

Meanwhile, fans applauded Pugh’s handling of the criticism, with one person writing: “Florence Pugh’s latest post about her Valentino look and ‘free the nipple’ is everything. I love her so much.”

“Florence Pugh’s latest post about her Valentino look and ‘free the nipple’ is everything,” another said. I love her so much.”