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We’ve been seeing a lot of skin this week and understandably so because it is getting pretty hot out now that we’re smack in the middle of summer.
Two days ago, Justin Bieber shocked the internet by posting a nude pic of himself on Instagram showing him standing on a boat, butt cheeks glowing in the vacation sun. In the caption, Bieber asks us to simply “look”, which, of course, drove fans wild. The photo has now gotten over two million likes (and over 626,000 comments) on Instagram and practically made headlines on every news outlet.
Here are a sampling of a few headlines we spotted online: “Justin Bieber gets cheeky as he shares photo of his bare bottom in Bora Bora“, “Justin Bieber — Ass Ahoy, Matey!! Full Moon in Paradise (PHOTO)“, “Justin Bieber shows us the back, Twitter wants to see the front“, and “Here’s Your Excuse To Ogle Justin Bieber’s Butt, Over And Over Again“. (That one listed a bunch of memes that emerged as a result of Bieber’s pic.)
Overall, the reaction appeared to be amusement or arousal. People weren’t necessarily that surprised to see Bieber post such a thing, but they weren’t disgusted or offended by the pic. After all, look at that beautiful scenery! Point is: Bieber’s an adult (technically speaking) and he can do and post whatever he wants. More importantly, he can wear whatever he wants — in this case, he chose to wear nothing at all. You do you, Justin.
But let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum (i.e. the opposite sex): Demi Lovato. The pop star is currently promoting her (awesome) single, Cool For The Summer, and to go with that, she is rockin’ a super cool summer wardrobe to go with her hot new song. During an NYC pool party last week, Lovato posed for the press wearing a bondage-inspired bra top with cutoff jeans and thigh-high intricate sandals. It’s a look that may look extreme, but she’s not flashing any particular body parts we’re not supposed to see.
Here, now take a look at the headlines that came out of that appearance: “Former Disney Star Demi Lovato Shocks Fans In Super Risqué Outfit“, “Demi Lovato’s Ballsy Outfit Has The Potential For The Worst Tan Lines Ever” and “This Is Definitely The Most Revealing Outfit Demi Lovato Has EVER Worn” — like, EVER.
And let’s not even talk about the comments. Oh, the comments. While Lovato’s fans have rushed to her defense, photos of her wearing the “revealing” top (her nipples are covered and there’s arguably more fabric there than on a regular bikini top I DON’T GET IT) have attracted some pretty mean comments. One fan asked her why she was doing this and that she’s not respecting herself by showing off all this skin; others were more straightforward, calling her a “fat bitch” and “slut”.
This is another classic case of sexism and, as this one Twitter user summarized, it’s “just…sad”.
this is just…sad pic.twitter.com/Pr9dbeZECN
— ️ (@beyxdemi) July 7, 2015
As a result of the criticisms against her “risqué” outfit, Lovato issued a Tweet addressing the fiasco, telling fans and critics: “Showing more skin cause I’ve worked HARD for this body…. #SORRYNOTSORRY” A perfect response, but the mere fact that she had to explain her choices (she too, is an adult just like Bieber) is completely outrageous. Where’s Bieber’s statement? Oh wait, no one had a problem with his glorious ass. And he was literally wearing no clothes.
Both Bieber and Lovato have had much to prove, gaining fame and success at a young age, and have actively worked on portraying a more mature image. Bieber did it through being an unapologetic (well, until recently) “badass”, while Lovato entered rehab in 2010 to deal with substance abuse and eating disorders. Both have arguably moved on from their pristine pop beginnings and are now functional adults who can do and wear whatever they want, whether that pleases their fans, family and critics or not. Look, no one liked this look (below), but we can’t force (or bully) Bieber into changing his pants.
But shaming is an extra step into bullying and sexism. It’s not necessary. Do you think that calling Demi a “slut” will make her put on a sweater and pretend to be someone she’s not? This is her style, and as with the rest of us, styles are constantly evolving. Who knows if Lovato will look back one day and hate that outfit; what we do know right now is that she loved wearing that top, she felt good in that outfit and, to us, she looked beautiful. Why are we trying to police the way people feel in outfits they chose to wear? Stop it, internet. Just stop.
And as Kevin Gnapoor once said: