Flaunt It Up, Buttercup
The other day I suddenly realised the amount of people that were apparently flaunting things on a daily basis, mainly women, mainly something corporeal . A google news search of the word 'flaunt' brought up mainly stories about the Kardashian-Jenners and all manner of orfices that they are apparently very proud of. Britney Spears, a flaunter of more than two decades since she flaunted herself in school uniform, aged 16 also featured. Then there was some rich kids, flaunting wealth, some rich celebs flaunting their friendships and some "celebs-in-love" (our fave kind) who were definitely flaunting their happy coupledom as they deigned to walk around together.
Our favourite shame-inducing "news" website seems to favour the word as much as it does other words with less subtle undertones such as sizzles, flashes, innocent, fresh-faced, saucy and effortlessly. On the Sidebar of Shame, I counted at least six people flaunting things on one day.
Why is it it that flaunt bothers me so much? It is the bloody sneakiness of usage and its questionable history.
Several dictionary definitions of flaunt include:
- to parade or display oneself conspicuously, defiantly, ostentatiously or boldly
- to show or make obvious something you are proud of in order to get admiration
- to show off your body in a confident or sexual manner
It is apparently from the Norwegian - flanta - meaning to show off or from the Swedish - flakka - to wave. I actually love it as a word, I adore the way my tongue wraps around it. Actually, I love most FL words to be honest flummox, flatter and flimsy - oh my! My problem with its use in current media outlets is the assumption behind it. Given the fact that, as mentioned, it is mostly used towards women' bodies, why are we assuming that they are showing them off on purpose for sexual or arrogant reasons? Why any time a woman is on the beach is she negatively FLAUNTING her body; are we not past this?
My other problem is the veiled *JUDGEMENT* behind the word. These articles are rarely celebratory, they are not applauding female defiance over body image in a world where most women do not look like the beautiful people. They are judging these beautiful woman for a) daring to get out their bodies and b) seemingly looking down on the fact they are proud of their bodies.
The media are also judgemental by what they do not show e.g. any women who are actually flaunting the normal (non-media-friendly) body image - they are confining the word to a certain type of woman who because she is attractive is seen as conceited and overtly sexual.
That's all before we even go down the route of what men may be flaunting (handful of online media examples are basically to do with how much money they have) and also why we never talk about anyone flaunting their intelligence / sense of humour / kindness.
Is it because we are sub-consciously still so ashamed of our bodies? Is this a disapproving eye, a throwback to Victorian modesty and religious guilt?
Mel Brooks wrote in his 1968 film, The Producer's, "If you've got it, flaunt it" in a song that was very much about showing-off your body and I have no problem with that. Even though remnants of my ancestors' British reserve occasionally cringes at anyone flaunting anything - something I consciously squash - I am all for the boldness and defiance of the flaunt. Go forth and flaunt yourself people, but let's leave the judgemental sexism behind and reclaim the word for our bodies, our minds, our achievements and our souls. There's nothing wrong with showing things off we are proud of, but let's not assume please that every woman in a fucking bikini is flaunting her ass/arse for your pleasure and attention.