Fully-Clothed is Bewitching 

Fully clothed women are bewitching?

A fully clothed woman is bewitching?

Looking at old ads suggests something about how we’ve changed and how we’ve stayed the same.

A perusal of Sociological Images’s past Halloween posts revealed an ad that they had found on Vintage Ads. It looks like it’s from the 1970s.

The first thing I noticed was the allure of a fully clothed woman who is showing off pretty much no curves. Don’t see that much anymore.

Not sure whether today’s obsession with revealing clothing is a backlash to feminism or tied to our more pornified culture, which comes courtesy Internet porn.

But even as things change they stay the same. Both now and then women are portrayed as the object of the male gaze.

1970s men, on the other hand, apparently needn’t be attractive at all, as we witness Mummy and Werewolf. Both today’s men and women are more objectified.

Meanwhile, those 1970s men are predators, a portrayal that seems less common today.

So things have changed in ways both good and bad.

Sources: Sociological Images and Vintage Ads

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 29, 2017, in objectification and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. I appreciate your insight into how this advertisement relates to objectification of individuals over time. While I imagine it might have been attractive at that time during the 70’s for men to be in a costumes that characteristically can be considered dominating and traditionally powerful, I can see how little focus is on the men in the advertisement while women take up more space with a focus on their relationship with men. I also noticed that the women, while not wearing clothing that shows off curves, are wearing jewelry and makeup, which in most of today’s ads would be even more prevalent. It seems that advertisements still deploy these strategies to portray women in these ways even more intensely today, perhaps to further depict women as objects of the male gaze. I agree that the portrayal of men as predators is less common, and it is more common for couple’s costumes to be more revealing in general as well as insinuating, such as a plug and socket or hotdog and bun. I think a decrease in the portrayal of men is good, so that whoever wearing the costume doesn’t get carried away and think the costume is an excuse to treat others in a predatory way.

  2. I recognize that this blog was done around Halloween and speaks more to women’s Halloween costumes. But I like the topic as it can be applied generally throughout the year.

    The pictures posted in the blog are of women in the 1960s or 1970s who look beguiling and sexy, and you can see just a shoulder in one picture and just hands in the other picture. We get to appreciate the women for who they are or might be. Pictures like this tell us that it isn’t necessary for women to degrade themselves to be attractive. I don’t even find these women particularly ravishing and beautiful – but it is something about their confidence, body language, the look in their eyes, and their colorful, classy clothing that they’re wearing.

    It’s like old Hollywood – thinking about Elizabeth Taylor for example. I just watched a couple of her black and white movies from the 1940s and 1950s recently, and oh my goodness, was she smoking hot. And she’s fully clothed in these old movies, at times we get a glance of her nice figure, but usually it’s close-ups and all about the eyes and genuineness.

    I didn’t come to appreciate this fact until probably too late in life. For most of my life I had a svelte, sexy body, and was told that often by both men and women. Yet I rarely had boyfriends and dates. Accordingly, I always had it in my mind that I needed to show off my curves and a lot of skin and that men would be more attracted to me if they could see my sexier side, since I was never pretty. That tactic worked for decades but in the wrong way, and I attracted the wrong type of man.

    Later in life I found men to be more attracted to me when I wasn’t showing too much skin. Once, a handsome man came up to me in a sports bar when I was out with my girlfriends, and he said I was the only woman in my group who was smiling and who looked like I wasn’t “trying too hard.”

    That man’s nice comment stuck with me ever since, and the last thing I ever want to look like is that I’m trying too hard (in the context of trying to gain favorable attention). Especially in my 50s, I know that no one wants to see old lady cleavage or really much of anything – perhaps other than a subtle peak at nice tanned legs now and then. And I have definitely found that a smile goes a long way, no matter with whom I’m interacting (or want to).

  3. Using an old Halloween costume ad perfectly showed how we changed throughout the years. It seems like Halloween costumes for women are getting too revealing each year. I recently visited Spirit Halloween and most of the women costumes were short skirts or short dresses paired with stockings. While men wear basic scary costumes. I believe this causes women to be more sexually objectified. Why is it that women have too look sexy during Halloween? We should be able to dress comfortably and not dress up as something society wants us to be.

  4. The sexual revolution happened, playboy, and other areas in which women were viewed as sexy, sexual, and displayed in a much more sexualized image. Many man favored this however not sure if many women favored this new era. Women no longer were getting the attention for motherhood and being a wife, and a daughter. Now this WAS a new era somehow happened were their were overexposed women everywhere. I believe that the me too movement happened due to this unrealistic expectation men put on women, where the attraction becomes something else which is not only unhealthy but disfuntional. It is evolving now in a better direction now in some areas. However, sadly there was abuse going on. Some want what they can’t have. Whether it is a women who is more dressed or not. However I have always viewed people more then just their skin. Every era has its own issues and historical significance.

    I believe growing, evolving, and bettering ourselves. May we be a solution not a problem in which continues a dysfunctional system. Beauty and the Beast was a very popular tale regarding a animalistic man with a beautiful women. Women and beauty go hand in hand. Beauty is viewed highly by many. The ad that shows the Halloween costume of the wolves and a beautiful women reminded me of that.

  5. I found this article to be quite interesting due to the fact that it focuses on the negatives and positives that men and women have undergone through over time. Personally, I felt that I understood the idea that fully clothed women could be seen as alluring and “bewitching.” To an extent, it is almost as though the fantasy of what lies hidden is what drives people to be bewitched. I find it slightly ironic that no matter whether women are fully clothed, or are lacking thereof, they always seem to be sexualized. It is almost as if they cannot escape. I am also intrigued by the idea of our pornified culture could possibly be attributed to influencing the type of clothing and ways women choose to express themselves. I prefer to see it as a shift in how sexuality is expressed. At the same time, I cannot deny that it is highly likely that this shift is due to the normalization of exposing one’s self. Potentially due to the easy access of pornography. I do enjoy hearing that objectification of men exists, and that not all men are being portrayed as predators, currently. I hope to continue seeing improvement in reducing the amount of objectification that takes place in our society so that one day we can all look at each other more objectively.

  6. This article was interesting to read because it discusses how objectification of men and women has changed for better as well as for worse. The image of a beautiful and fully clothed women from the 1970s was actually somewhat shocking to me. As I have grown up in the 21st century every common and popular image of a women is one that is scantily clad. It was really nice to see that these women were appreciated for their beauty and not body, while it was also depressing to see where our society has fallen today with its portrayal of women. It shows that our society has grown to only appreciate the most provocative of women and promotes the sexualization of all women. This article also had a very interesting point about the men in the image. They weren’t objectified or made ice looking, instead they are portraying predators. The article point out that as a society, men aren’t strictly portrayed as monsters anymore.

  7. Fatima Ahmad

    This article was really interesting to read and pointed out the male gaze regardless of how much clothing there is or isn’t. I come from a muslim background and choose to be fully clothed and wear the hijab which is why I first clicked on this article to see what it discussed. I agree with how the author pointed out how much culture has changed and influenced clothing. What stood out to me, was that regardless of being fully clothed or not, the male gaze was still there and remained the constant. I’ve noticed this a lot in other countries that might be more conservative in dress. For example, women in Pakistan can be fully clothed but still be stared at by men while out and about, and what you wear doesn’t change that. Advertisements have changed a lot since the 1970s but the objectification remained. I had never viewed the men in the ad as predators, so when I read that portion, it gave me a new perspective on this particular advertisement and also others I have seen. I’m glad this portrayal is less common today and it’s interesting how advertisements have changed in some positive and negative ways based on how culture has shifted.

  8. This article was super interesting to me because it really made me think about how much our country has changed in the sense of women in general. As it shows that at that particular time, the culture was much different, and women didn’t have to be half naked to be glorified. It really makes you look into today and realize just how much women are identified and glorified as sexual objects. This in turn encourages women to bare more and wear less to be sexy and to show people what they want to see. In a sense it is so much of a norm to wear less to be attractive that when somebody dresses more modest it is almost bewitching. They are almost looked at as an outcast, like something out of the norm. It is important for people to see these changes in society as described in this article about how different ideals have changed about sexuality and women being objectified.

  9. Although this post was really short and to the point, there was still a hidden meaning that I saw behind the words, and especially the picture that came with the post. To start, I want to say that being fully-clothed or being less-clothed can both be bewitching, and I believe a lot of people see it that way too. It really depends on the person’s preference, however, I am neutral about this topic. It was mentioned that the practice of revealing clothes was either a backlash to feminism or due to society’s pornified culture, and this dilemma really intrigued me. Maybe it could be both? I see revealing clothes as a result of feminism because for so long, women have been told what they are allowed to wear and that there’s more to a lady than what meets the eye. But I also think it is a result of society’s pornified culture, because it appropriates women dressing more provocatively.

  10. This was very interesting to me, because I never knew that men in the 1970’s were portrayed as predators and unattractive. But in today’s time period, men are just as objectified as women. It’s fascinating how the allure of women changed in time. I have noticed that in this day and age, a woman who is less clothed is far bewitching than a women who is fully clothed. Personally, I think a woman who is fully clothed and a woman with little clothing on can both be bewitching. I think it all depends on the person’s preference. Looking at the photo, it made me imagine what an ad like this would look like today. I think the men would look less predatory and more sexy, and attractive with less clothing and maybe their abs on display. On the other hand, I think the women would unlikely be dressed in gowns but more in revealing clothing.

  11. This is a very interesting photo. Women look very sweet and elegant, while the men behind look rough and ugly. In fact, I think many concepts are indeed changing now, now Halloween, boys dressed as mummies or werewolves can also become very sexy or cute, especially in South Korea and Japan, many boys will give themselves some very attractive Makeup, then put on some very cute dress. And also very popular.

  12. I was attracted to this post because is quite lighthearted among others I have been reading, and I love that ad. Fully-clothed woman yet sophisticated and hence sensually charged is depicted as a prey and apparently the predators are a werewolf and a mummy, which is quite interesting. Men were not considered in that ad unless they were depicted as those creatures. What strikes me is the fact that fashion at that time was still aiming to make women look sensual and elegant at the same time (this is my frank opinion) with a more conservative approach. Nowadays, I found that fashion, especially for young people, are giving the message that to be sensual it is necessary to show more skin as possible. People can dress how they like, but not necessarily there should be an association with bare skin and sensuality. It is true that at that time singers, actresses, and models weren’t so “undressed” as they are today, which underlines the power of media in influencing people’s minds. Nowadays, the women’s image is much more explicitly sexually objectified and hence the fashion and media work in synergy to reflect such image. At the same it is indeed interesting to see how men were depicted; women were the center of interest, but not much men, who culturally at that time were not interested in fashion or shopping and hence did not matter much how they looked in the ad compared to women. Today, men are more involved in using beauty products as much as more sensitive to fashion creating a market opportunity for fashion companies; undoubtedly, this new interest created a cultural shift since that ad and consequentially even men in ads and commercials are showed half naked. The objectification of both sexes has increased, but the women ones remains the more pronounced.

  13. Upon reading this blog, I could already think of many various points of why it could be such a wrong thing to be fully-clothed in public. When I was younger, my mother would always tell me that there’s more to a lady than just what meets the eye. I took this advice as her trying to tell me that women doesn’t have to flaunt their looks in order to gain attention from other people. This little piece of advice is what most people lack of in their morale towards other people. Growing up in middle school, almost all of the girls in my grade were already wearing makeup and a sports bra with a low-cut shirt, and while some girls like myself still played with dolls, they were already talking about crushes towards the boys. This unfortunate social stigma has always something to do with how sexuality is displayed in the household. Children copy adults’ actions, just as children imitate their parent’s words. It’s such a shame that younger generations of society today are gravitating towards feeling like they have to act and/or dress promiscious, solely because that sort of attitude is becoming socially acceptable.

  14. Sarah Yoffe-Sharp

    This blog compares women’s clothing and men’s roles in the 1970’s to current times. It makes the point that men are not portrayed in the media as “predators” now as much as in the 1970’s. However, there are still movies for children like Despicable Me 3 and Ninjaro, which depict the ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ character as a male. This stereotype is common throughout the media. Children’s stories often depict a ‘bad’ character as a male. For example, Jafar in Aladdin, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Captain Hook in Peter Pan. If the story does depict a female villain, then it is especially rare for them to be attractive. For example, the ugly stepmother Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, or Ursula the overweight sea witch in The Little Mermaid, or the terrible hair style of Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians. These stories are older stories, but they have been remade and children are very familiar with these characters. As a society, we must acknowledge these stereotypes and attempt to break out of the mold as we create new stories and deliver them to impressionable children.

  15. I don’t see the problem of women being fully clothed. Why is being fully-clothed bewitching? There are many women today who have different preferences in what they want to wear whether it is revealing or not. Because of today’s society, it is different for others to feel comfortable to wear revealing clothing cause of men who like to stare, whistle and make comments about them or because they aren’t comfortable showing off their own skin. It has nothing to do with feminism. Although, what I found interesting about this article was that didn’t men were also being objectified in today’s society. I didn’t know that because I only have heard more about women being objectified. Why don’t we hear about men being objectified?

    • Why don’t we hear about men being objectified?

      Probably because men have run media… literature… art… for so long. We’ve now all internalized that women are the sexy objectified ones.

      If women had run all these things I imagine it would be reversed.

  16. The title is very clever since this is looking at Halloween ads to compare the differences in older ads and newer ads. In these older ads, we see that the women are still the main focus point in the image, even if they are fully clothed. The women are in the front to stand out more and the men in the picture have masks in covering their faces. The focus point of an ad doesn’t always need to be a barley dressed person. You get the same message across with a clothed person. Now our ads can be very revealing for the men and women. I think that ads have become more sexual explicit because our culture is pornified. If you look on any billboard or ad, 80% of the time there is half naked people on there to get your attention. A lot of people believe now that to be “beautiful” or “attractive” you need to show off your body. People make fun of others for being covered up or “they look frumpy”. Women and men have no sense of respect for themselves. I believe that there are somethings that should only be seen by their partner, and that is not something that is common today.

  17. I personally think that men and women are set to higher standards in today society. Women have always been looked at as beautiful objects as opposed to men where they were seen as the breadwinners who didn’t always have to be super good looking. Times have changed and men are also now set to high standards consisting of big muscles, jaw lines, beards etc. As seen in this photograph from the 1970s it is seen that these women are fully clothed as opposed to our ads today; woman are almost always in bikinis. I think that our society have idolized these bikini models wrongly. Before women were seen as beautiful because of their way of being and facial features. Today woman are idolized because of their insanely thin figures; of course their facial features. Times before were also a lot more conservative as opposed to our society today. I think that this also corresponds to the reasoning of models today. A lot more people are liberal and like to see woman show off a little bit more or a lot more in this case. As for men I think that they are still considered to be breadwinners although gender roles are becoming a non-ritual meaning that a traditional breadwinner doesn’t always have to be male. Many women are starting to become the main income for their family. Men and women today are both held standards when it comes to body images and beauty. Our society has transformed negatively.

  18. There is an allure to a fully clothed woman. Since today women are more objectified than ever before, we think that a woman can only be sexy if she is showing some skin. Especially in the hollywood industry, where both and women have to add nude scenes just to put people in seats at the cinema. And this is not just for women. In the latest movie Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth was pleased to hear that he wouldn’t have to appear shirtless in a non relevant scene just to add sex appeal to an action movie. But half way through the movie, he was asked to do so and he tried to argue against it but in the end had to do it. So we see that it’s not just women who have to take it all off but men too.
    What’s been forgotten and been left behind is the mystery of getting to know someone and their body as well. Women who cover up, show discipline and also are still appealing since there’s a sense of mystery to her. We don’t see that alot anymore since girls are always posting on their social media pictures that are revealing and it also gains them publicity. This is all well and good and it’s everyone’s choice to do so. But it begs the question, why do we have to show skin to be liked or appreciated. Our bodies don’t equate to who we are as human beings…

  19. I believe that women who are fully clothed are bewitching, every woman should be allowed to wear what they want and what they feel comfortable wearing in their own skin. Women shouldn’t be judge for what they wear, they have the freedom to dress as they please and every women is beautiful in every way. However i don’t think that women should be admired or loved because of what they where, it should be because of who they are as a person. I feel that both ways whether women are fully clothed or not fully clothed they are alluring and there is nothing wrong with it. Men shouldn’t be so focused on the clothes that women wear but because of social media women are. Everyone will have different opinions about women’s clothing, is usually that women who are fully clothed are because they are religious or it’s because of their culture or because they are insured and those who show skin are putting themselves at risk and placing himself as a sexual object, yet in my opinion i feel that women wear whatever they want to make them feel comfortable or for whatever reason and should not have to be questioned on their clothing.

  20. Zosimus the Heathen

    I tend to find fully clothed women more interesting and attractive than naked (or nearly so) women. That could in part be due to the fact that I’ve always found a woman’s face the most attractive part of her (breasts? What are those?), and also the fact that as a cross-dresser (and therefore a statistical anomaly – best pay no heed to my blatherings!), I tend to find women’s clothing fascinating anyway – there’re few things I find more pleasing than the sight of an attractive women wearing something really interesting that complements her looks. Indeed, I have a funny habit of mentally dressing attractive women I see in clothes and outfits that I think would look good on them, which I imagine is another thing that would make me something of an oddity (certainly, from what I’ve heard, the stereotype is that it’s women who do that sort of thing whereas men are only interested in mentally *un*dressing those they find attractive!).

    • That’s so interesting what you say about “dressing” (In the imagination) someone you find attractive in something that would be more attractive on them. I think women do that with their partners all the time, and even suggesting they wear a different type of clothing.

  21. It is interesting how this article points out the observation that both women and men are more objectified today. I hadn’t really thought about that much before but I think it’s because we’re becoming more feminine as a culture. Big buff hollywood actors now stand on the same level as softer, more handsome characters like Justin Bieber. It’s an interesting phenomenon that threatens many heavy lifting, meat eating, bearded veterans ( of the crowd I am sometimes a part of), but I do sometimes find it nice to dress well and shave. Thankfully, this switch in culture allows people like myself to switch back and forth from handsome a suave to bearded and muscular. Sometimes though, I can’t help but feel a little stuck in the middle. Both sides have their critics and the internet is ever bursting with personal opinions. I think we’re on the way to accepting both styles for men, just as well as we accept girls as tomboys.

    When I first read the article, the title had me thinking it was trying say that fully dressed women are often portrayed as witches or as malevolent characters. That reminded me of Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, where she played a witch in a long dark dress and horns. A stark comparison to her portrayal of the tomb raiding hero, Laura Croft. The more I think about it, the more I remember seeing fully dressed women being portrayed as witches or as grumpy CEO’s. Hmmm…

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. The culture is valuing women and femininity more so that it’s increasingly more okay for men to take on traits associated with women. Of course traits associated with both women and men have positive and negative sides and objectification is more the negative side.

  22. I find fully clothed women to be bewitching. This may not apply to anyone and I know for sure that some like women to show off their skin more. I feel am really attracted towards women who show less or do not show at all. It gives me a sense that she is mysterious and respects herself enough not to demonstrate herself as a sexual object. At this point, I begin to worry that I may sound a little bit dogmatic here by implying that women who show a little bit or more of their skin view herself as a sexual object. I am actually not saying that. What I am saying is that it appears to me that way. It does not mean it has to be that way. At the end of the day, it is different from people to people. Some may people may prefer women to dress in a certain theme.

  23. Exploiting women in another way, extra money is made from selling women tight, skimpy clothing, Clothes manufacturers get more garments from a bolt of cloth, the garments are quicker to sew, and stretch garments that don’t require fitting — don’t require highly-skilled sewing machine operators.

    From my aesthetic viewpoint, stretchy fabrics that flatten down a women’s bosom or buttocks, or force-squeezes these features out into some opening, is not attractive. You don’t want to distort the feminine form, which is naturally beautiful.

    • Offering something to “fix” your problem is one way of making money. Which may or may not be ethical, depending.

      And luckily for women, all different body types have been found attractive in different cultures so it’s not like a woman must have one particular body type to be attractive. And we are attracted to people because of more than just their looks, which is also lucky.

  24. Isn’t this just a different ideal – not sexual but sensual: elegant, lithe, and certainly feminine.

    I think also the clothing is suggestive, and not quite as concealing as it pretends to be. Just because you can’t quite see it, doesn’t mean the mind can’t conjure up the impossible perfection beneath – and, indeed, exposure is generally less exciting than the anticipation of exposure. Taboo glimpsed has more value than taboo displayed.

    Which is more erotic? Bleona Qereti in fishnet and a thong, or Cate Blanchett in full Alexander McQueen, sans underwear?

  25. Oh yes! Women can certainly be alluring fully clothed. That picture and your comments, for some reason, reminded me of young Audrey Hepburn. I think I first saw her in Pygmalion. I had an immediate and lasting crush on her, which had nothing to do with sex. To me, she was simply magnetic. 😀

  26. not sure what is meant by bewitching wouldn’t you think nakedness was more bewitching or is that more attractive? I know I’m going to probably get hate mail for this but it’s just a simple question

    • It depends on how you understand bewitching.

      Partly you can look at the definition. Here are some synonyms: delight, enchant, captivate, charm, enthrall, entrance, bewitch, beguile, transport, thrill, excite, exhilarate, intoxicate

      One could enchant and beguile via nudity. That’s what we typically see today. But there are certainly other means.

      One could enchant thru their charming ways of being, their mystery … something from the personality or the soul. It doesn’t have to just be physical. Some of these ways of being enchanting are deeper and longer-lasting. Few of us have “perfect” bodies and we all age, for instance. And yet we can still enchant.

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