Now this is by way of a pondering, not in any way a definitive statement, coverall answer. I don’t think I’ll even really be taking a stance, we’ll see. As to why I’m writing this? I have no idea!
So sex does seem to ‘sell’, and people get criticized for it, quite a lot really. So the question arises, what makes it objectionable? Is it exploitative? Is it degrading or ‘dirty’? Is it inappropriate? Well I guess a lot of this is subjective, and very much a ‘cultural’ thing. You decide.
But there must also be an element of situation. Obviously if you use scantily clad Brazilian models to sell baked beans then you’re using sex as a device to attract attention and be memorable (or at least boost web searches for Brazilian models, which may throw up a few images of your baked bean can, if you’re lucky). If, however, you use nubile women of any ethnicity in a state of disrobe to advertise lingerie you can hardly be accused of false advertising or creating a tenuous connection.
In fashion, and for the most part I’m really only talking about ‘arty’ catwalk stuff, there can be quite a lot of ‘pushing the boundaries’, being daringly risque and teetering on the edge of what is deemed ‘socially acceptable’. It seems almost like a sort of punk statement of edgy ‘cool’ and confidence. A badge of daring and elitism, almost as though if you can show a bit of breast in your design and get away with it you must be ‘somebody’, daring people to object.
But why? The artistic nude has been a more or less acceptable form for quite a while now :p Is it because they’re real people? And you, or someone, is sitting just a few feet away? Because it’s a fairly public gathering; the lights are all on; and that girl has forgotten to wear a bra; and her blouse, while having a very interesting ruff, reminiscent of the 16th Century, provides approximately the same coverage as a clear lolly wrapper on a giraffe? And as you’re thinking this you feel guilty and wonder whether anybody thinks you’re perving, which they don’t, because they’re trying not to look like they’re perving also.
Which brings me to another thing, guilt about sex and desire/lust. We men get a very bad wrap for it, slaving after girls like they’re made of chocolate; seeming to see them solely as ambulatory objects of pleasure and desire. But think about it for just a moment, it’s really not our fault, it’s biology, it’s the key to our survival as a species; why we’re still here! Well, strictly speaking its not the soul thing, but natural selection favors those that see a member of the opposite gender; like what they see; and act in a procreative manner. Did you see what I did there? No? Never mind.
I realise (well, someone pointed out) that I just came across all chauvinistic on you, supporting and trying to justify learning and lechery in all it’s forms. Gah! What I intended to try and point out was that the body is meant to be appealing. But unfortunately we just don’t always treat it’s appeal and beauty in an appropriate manner.
So the question still remains, is it ‘selling out’? Well, I still can’t decide. Nudity or suggested nudity doesn’t necessarily equate something sexual, and in fact it is the setting and our interpretation that makes it so. At the end of the day, as I am fond of saying, it all comes down to style and a certain ‘class’. Things should be done artistically; and with an awareness of what you’re presenting; ensuring that it serves you in it’s context. You must know that it does what you want it to do.
If you’re going to stray into the arena of sex you have to make the distinction between sensual and smut, then make a conscious decision and know why you made it.