Illustration Shows Scrutiny Over Women's Appearances

August 25th 2016

Almie Rose

It seems like when it comes to appearance, women can't win.

Women are told they should wear a dress, but not one that shows cleavage. And they can't simply opt out by wearing a suit. That gets backlash, too. And they have to wear makeup, but not too much. Definitely not too much.

It can be exhausting. Perhaps that's why one drawing by a female French illustrator who goes by "La sauvage jaune" is being so widely shared and discussed on Twitter.

"The Lottery of Indecency"

The drawing underscores the various hypocrisies about how women are told to look and dress:

  • "You look like a whore with your makeup. [But] if you're not wearing makeup you're neglecting yourself."
  • "You have a head scarf! You're clearly submissive!"
  • "Long skirt? Too many religious connotations." vs. "Short skirt? Too many sexual connotations. Don't be surprised if you're raped."

The illustration also highlights the hypocrisy of the "Burkini Ban"

"Burkini? A wetsuit but there's 'burk' in it," the illustration reads. "Undress yourself." But then if you do, you're also shamed, the drawing suggests. "OH MY GOD a (woman's) nipple! Cover that up! You should be ashamed. You have no self-respect."

ATTN: previously reported that France is banning the burkini. Women seen in one were asked by police to remove them and to leave the beach, recalling times when women would be criminalized for a different type of bathing suit:

The drawing is receiving praise and sparking discussion.

Some women are commenting on the realness behind the art.

Although the drawing is well liked and retweeted, there are some who still aren't quite getting it, sparking discussion among the Twitter community.

twitter exchange

Studies have shown that clothing matters.

A 2013 article in Psychology Today reported on a study about snap judgments on clothing. Some 129 women were shown photos of women in "office clothing" for only five seconds. The outfits had subtle differences, such as skirt length. All the faces were blurred out, leaving participants to focus only on the clothing.

What the study found was discouraging:

"I am afraid we found that the clothing did matter. People rated the senior manager less favorably when her dress style was more 'provocative', and more favorably when dressed more conservatively (longer skirt, buttoned up blouse). I reiterate that the clothing in the 'provocative' condition was still very conservative in style and look – it was not a short skirt and a revealing blouse, but a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone."

Perhaps that's why La sauvage jaune's drawing struck such a nerve.