To each, her own.

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A model doing the catwalk on the runway wearing a black bathing suit, sun-glasses, white sandals, and a big white sling bag.Seated within earshot, I overheard a classmate speaking about how women in certain countries are “forced” to cover their bodies.

“I feel bad for them,” said the woman dressed in a skin-tight top and miniskirt.

But her feelings of pity are misguided — there’s more to the story than she understands. I wanted to tell her that the women she speaks of aren’t always being forced, that more often than not it is their choice to cover themselves.

I wanted to bring up the idea that, perhaps, the “force” she perceives could have a parallel in the perception those women have of her. The women she was speaking of may be thinking that American society has pressured her to reach for an unattainable beauty.

But I resisted my temptation to start a cultural debate.

Italy makes my case indirectly. This country has been known to openly celebrate the human form in its sculptures and paintings, a place that has given women supposed freedom of expression. Ironically many are feeling disparaged and trapped by the rampant bubble-headed depictions in the media.

The root cause of the problem is the blurred line between those in power and the media. The prevalence of voluptuous babes everywhere stems from Italy’s recently departed Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s policies.

It is as if those in power like to see women who don’t contribute more to a discussion than merely giggling, jiggling and blowing kisses. The public is constantly subjected to these images through mass media. Images that are offensive to the more serious minded.

A woman’s value in society is obviously not proportional to the amount of clothes she does or doesn’t wear. My fellow student was off the mark. There’s a lot more to the story.

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Whenever a society turns a woman into a mindless object, whether cloaked in a burkah or stripped down, something is seriously wrong.

Sadly, in scanning the world, the choice isn’t always hers to make.


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