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TRINIDAD WAS UP in arms over legs this week, as well as bumcees, bellies and boobs, all of which are all well and good, in principle, provided you don’t parade them in bathing suits in the aisles of a church.
Last weekend, a fashion show at Trinity Cathedral kicked off a very Trinidadian debate when female models – sometimes very voluptuous ones – in skimpy bikinis – sometimes very skimpy ones –were exposed, as it were, on the catwalk. The designers had, apparently, received strict guidelines about not showing any revealing clothing but those strict guidelines about outfits were, clearly, only very loosely adhered to by at least one outfit.
See trouble, now, when hot-bodied young women in high heels and low-cut bikinis strutted their stuff on the cathedral-walk.
And you could easily see why the faithful were upset, especially those of an age to remember when women couldn’t enter churches without covering their hair – but it’s much harder to see how they couldn’t foresee it. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, as Bob Dylan sang, and you don’t need a programme to know a model show has more “show” than “model”, and there will be bikini (to paraphrase the Daniel Day-Lewis movie title).
Now, no one objected that equally hard-bodied young male models did much the same thing as the females with, perhaps, less jiggly bits. Barebacked – i.e., half-naked – males in the church aisles didn’t make anyone raise Hell, or even an eyebrow – but female tummy parts (and the more yummy parts), well, that was the straw that broke the camel(toe’s) back.
From the word go, I could call the ensuing “debate” as predictably as Ato Boldon entering the parents’ race at his child’s school’s sports day: plenty headshaking and fist-raising and plenty more How dare they’s than Why are we’s.
Trinidadians are past masters of blithely ignoring the fabric of any issue and aggressively shredding its hem: post 1,300 words about a popular, populist police commissioner – and the Facebook thread goes on for three pages, nobody noticing a troubling instinct towards the use of righteous force, everybody incredulous that he never eat a doubles!
And, just so, Cathedral-gate unfolded: repeated citing of the inapplicable Sodom & Gomorrah (something fig leaf-ish was required); the perhaps more germane thieves-in-the-temple allusion; and declaration upon evermore passionate declaration of what might properly be called, in this case, incense.
And not one mentioning of the obvious: the mistake was not in portraying near-nudity in a fashion show, but in having a fashion show with its necessary near-nudity in a cathedral in the first place. You can’t play sailor mas and ‘fraid powder and you can’t have a fashion show and ‘fraid bathing suit. (Watch me not say anything about cat on catwalk.)
In its eagerness to appear relevant by allowing an entertainment in what it was itself willingly overlooking was its hallowed halls, the church might have permitted a body part or two to be displayed – but what was really revealed was its backward thinking (to the extent that any church can be accused of any thinking).
Why, Trinidadians might more usefully have asked themselves, do churches object to nudity at all? Especially in our superficial time, when your Facebook life matters more than your real one and, because you’re jealously watching the video post (by a “friend” you’ve never really met) of a jet ski ride Down-D-Islands, you don’t notice your daughter is pregnant?
Who gains what in a debate about a fashion show when it is automatically assumed that the partial display of tot-tots and bum-bums is wholly offensive? Who gains – and, more important, who loses, and what – when someone is allowed to declare what is permitted by God?
The instant debate has raged over the desecration of supposedly holy ground – but the real discussion should have been about how you make ground holy at all.
Because, as Charles Baudelaire and Kevin Spacey pointed out, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to persuade the world that he didn’t exist; and the greatest con the church has ever pulled is persuading the world that it is a force for good – even as, down through the ages, it demonises and persecutes witches, infidels, intellectuals, lefthanders and the LGBT.
The question is not whether a titty or two defiled holy ground.
The question is why men in dresses are allowed to declare what is unholy for women in bikinis.
BC Pires is a sinner who will cast the first stone only at glass temples