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SocietyJanuary 3, 2020

Eight simple rules for being a woman and wearing clothes in public

alex (8)

Summer reissue: In the week that a woman was told her bikini was “inappropriate” to wear at an Auckland pool, Alex Casey provided some much-needed reminders for women wearing clothes everywhere. 

First published on 9 April 2019

Women, you probably already know this but… you’re wrong. Your clothes are wrong, your togs are wrong, whatever you are wearing on your head is wrong, your shoes are wrong, your face is wrong, your hair is wrong, your skin is wrong, your body – it goes without saying – is wrong. And if you think that you can waltz on in to any old place wearing any old thing in 2019, well then I’ve got some bad news: your bloody brain is wrong too.

It seems that many of us have forgotten the cardinal rules of being a woman and wearing clothes in public. Just this weekend, a swimmer at the Albany Olympic Pools was told by staff that her bikini, bought from noted strumpet supermarket Glassons, was inappropriate and making patrons uncomfortable. I hate to be Captain Obvious but the clue is in the name. Glassons. GlASSons. There’s a bare ass staring us straight in the face. Completely unacceptable.

If you need a reminder of how to dress appropriately in public please allow me, a chaste woman who only shops at Shanton because I SHANT show any skin, to remind you of the key rules.

Don’t wear a bikini

Let us begin with the most recent example of a woman daring to breach standards of decency by wearing clothes and going outside. Yvette Harvie-Salter left her local pool on Saturday after being taken aside by a lifeguard and told that her swimwear was inappropriate. So inappropriate, in fact, that it had bothered a group of patrons for “the last little while.”

“It just feels like body shaming, really,” she told Stuff. “I am really hurt by it.” To avoid anything like this happening in future, women are advised to wear a full length coat to their local pool and slowly wade into the shallows in the style of Virginia Woolf. You’ll still get kicked out for it, sure, but at least you won’t offend anyone with your scandalous stomach skin.

Don’t show your glam arms 

You’d think this one was obvious but, in 2016, a leaked TVNZ document included a particularly telling guideline for the wardrobe of women presenters. “The general rule is no bare arms,” the new dress code warned, prompting The Spinoff to assemble a sealed section of The Rude TVNZ Forearms They Don’t Want You To See.

Don’t show cleavage

Everyone knows that human breasts are the devil’s pillows and must be locked away at all times. Why else would a British tourist have been asked by to cover up her “offensive” cleavage at a Christchurch casino in 2007? “She said I was wearing a low cut top that people found offensive, Helen Simpson told The Press at the time. “I was humiliated, absolutely humiliated.” If you thought that was a one-off, how about St Dominic’s Catholic Girls School, who stipulated in capital letters “there must be no cleavage AT ALL” in the rules for their school ball in 2016.

Don’t wear a short skirt

It was reported in 2016 that female students at Henderson High School were told to lower their skirts to knee level to avoid “distracting” male students and TEACHERS. Deputy Principal Cherith Telford said the rule was designed to “keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.” Here’s an idea: why not absolutely Birdbox the hell out of any male teachers who find teenage knees distracting and then maybe also put them in jail?

But DON’T YOU DARE cover up too much…

On the one hand, breasts, knees and stomachs are unseemly but, on the other hand, wearing too much material can also cause offence. In 2011, a Saudi Arabian student was left crying on the side of the road after a bus driver refused to pick her up because she was wearing a full face veil.

Just last month, a mere two days after the Christchurch terrorist attack, two young Muslim women faced a torrent of abuse at a train station in Auckland for wearing hijab. The following day, a Christchurch schoolgirl wearing a hijab had a bus driver slam the door in her face.

Don’t wear bare feet

This one is just funny and frankly goes for all people, tbh. Don’t go barefoot in malls unless you want a searing Spinoff debate published about it. Arguably the worst punishment of all.

Don’t be pregnant

Never mind the fact that you are literally creating a new life inside your own body like an actual walking, talking miracle machine – being visibly pregnant in public is also not really OK. Take it from Jenny May Coffin, who was called “embarrassing and an eyesore” by extremely cool letter writer John Rook (Lower Hutt). “”Who is responsible for allowing a sports reporter in a very pregnant state to remain on screen?” he wrote in the TV Guide. “When a woman gets to that stage of pregnancy [show] a bit of decency – stand her down.”

Don’t bother

Here’s the most useful tip for all ladies: next time you are choosing an outfit to wear in public, consider the option of not bothering to go outside at all. Instead of hitting up the casino, the classroom, the workplace, the television screen, the bus, the mall or the local pool, why not instead jump straight into the nearest skip, cover your offensive body in rubbish and lie very still forever. Please be careful to cover the breasts and buttocks with as much debris as possible so as to not make any rat patrons uncomfortable. You’re welcome.

Keep going!