Jessica Simpson and her friends, Ken and CaCee, on the VH1 T.V. show, Price of Beauty, traveled to the ancient city of Marrakech in Morocco. Like the earlier episodes, they head out to find various element of beauty as defined by the cultures they visit.
This week Jessica and her crew went to a spa, the local market and shopping. However, the episode mainly focused on the difference in style of dress between Moroccan and American woman. It opened up the question, how does clothing (or lack there of) make you sexy? They also explored the intersection between confidence and beauty. In Morocco, women's clothing styles range from Westernized clothing, traditional "jellabas" to completely covered with only eyes showing. Jessica noted the difference in the way men looked at her when she was dressed in the traditional garb, covered up from head to foot -- they actually looked her in the eyes.
Jessica and her friends interviewed a group of women who embodied the full range in the conservativeness of their dress. The most "liberal" of the women, who wore Westernized clothing, was critical of Jessica showing "too much leg." Interestingly, it seemed to really hit a nerve with Jessica. She stated feeling "judged" and was uncomfortable running into the woman later in the show. Was she really offended by the comment about her legs? It's unlikely. In a nutshell, no one likes to feel judged. No matter where you are in the world, you want people to be open to your customs, even if we don't agree with them. It's easier said than done.
Every time Jessica and her crew enter a new country, simply observing the differences could be construed as a subtle judgment (not positive or negative just different). For example, the girls giggled and gagged as they ate sheep brain at the local market. Could this be perceived as judgment? Does it subtly imply that we would "judge" what they eat as gross?
The group of women asked Jessica what she would do if a man came along that she loved who asked her to change the way she dressed for him. In part, completely covering yourself with your clothing is a way of protecting your beauty for just your husband and showing self respect. Jessica indicated that she wouldn't be interested in a man who didn't accept the way she dressed. Clearly, the cultural differences they were talking about went way beyond fashion. In every culture, there is an intersection between beauty, gender roles, love and fashion.
Completely covering our bodies from head to toe is radical and different for American women. We tend to associate skin with sexiness. Think Pamela Anderson. The women pointed out that you can be sexy with just your eyes. It's kind of the anti-Victoria Secret approach to seduction isn't it? But, eyes can be very sexy. Who hasn't fallen for someone over a shared glance or a "come hither" look?
For one day, pretend that you are covered from head to foot. Try using just your eyes to be sexy. It is an interesting experiment and makes you think twice about how much your eyes convey. The story your eyes tell add to your sense of beauty no matter what country you are in.
The next stop is Japan...
Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist and author of the new book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Mindful Eating 101 and Eat, Drink & Be Mindful.