As she hops on the bus, her sister and brother in law give out an exasperated sigh. “A bikini top!” her sister says with relief. “I thought you were wearing a bra! I was gonna kill you!”
Right then I wanted to stand up and exclaim. “Yes, America! This! This is what’s confusing me about your definition of proper.”
In a couple of fashion shows that I watched online, and attended, the same thing happens. The girls would be walking the runway in bikinis or lingerie, then grow upset if the windows in the change rooms are not sealed to the top. The managers would be very strict with the boys and cameras, preventing them from lingering in the change rooms, or peeping through any holes onto the girls who are in their underwear. (This Victoria Secret Fashion Show is an excellent example; look for the very end of the show, 6:30/6:47)
Don’t tell me this is plainly a legal matter, because if managers are fearful of being sued, the girls are plainly upset about their own privacy. But what privacy? If bikini’s are sometimes skinnier and more revealing than underwear, and if walking the runway means being speculated in more detail-what is it that the girls want the public to stay out of?
The same scenario happens in back stages, theaters and sports; that awkward moment when the definition of body, privacy, and propriety is encrypted in a language that I cannot understand. My smile is torn, as I remember once again how foreign and alien I am to people I shared two years with. And just because I speak English pretty well, asking for a translation would not be taken without offense.