Can you be too sexy for certain situations?
Singer Katy Perry and Elmo perform in a music video that drew parental complaints after it appeared on YouTube. (YouTube.com / October 3, 2010)
FOR THE RECORD:
"Too Sexy": An article in the Oct. 3 Image section about recent controversies over women deemed too attractive for their surroundings said that Azteca TV reporter Ines Sainz is a former Miss Spain. A different Ines Sainz was Miss Spain Universe in 1997. —
"It's not right, it's not fair, it just is," says body image expert Dr. Robyn Silverman. "And since people tend to make snap judgments, women need to think five steps ahead and ask themselves what sort of reaction they might get."
Silverman, who holds a doctorate in child development from Tufts University and is the author of "Good Girls Don't Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It," says the line between self-esteem-building attractiveness and coming across as "too sexy" has everything to do with circumstances. "Something that seems risque in a bank wouldn't be on a beach, so you need to listen to your gut."
Although there's no way of knowing if the women on our list were listening to — or ignoring — said gut, they have been involved in some of the more memorable manifestations of beauty backlash in recent years. Among them:
Too sexy for 'Sesame Street'
The latest casualty of this syndrome is pop star Katy Perry, whose appearance alongside a Muppet was deemed too sexy for "Sesame Street." In a recent videotaped segment for the show, Perry sings a (kid-friendly) version of her 2008 hit "Hot N Cold" while playing tag with Elmo. Her offending wardrobe choice was a low-cut chartreuse cocktail dress with a sheer panel that barely contained her decolletage as she sang in front of a cartoon streetscape. After the video turned up on YouTube, complaints from angry parents convinced the show's producers not to broadcast the segment on PBS. (Interestingly, the singer was wearing something akin to a bridal veil on her head at all times.)
Perry ended up getting a bounce from the whole affair, showing up shortly afterward in a "Saturday Night Live" parody of the whole cleavage kerfuffle.
Too sexy for the sidelines
Last month, the hotness of Azteca TV's Ines Sainz was a hot-button body issue. The former Miss Spain, who has been a sports reporter for the Mexican network for the last nine years, became the center of all kinds of unwanted attention after she went to a New York Jets practice to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez.
On the sidelines that unwanted attention took the form of footballs lobbed in her direction. Afterward, in the locker room, as she waited to interview Sanchez, it allegedly took the form of remarks that made her feel uncomfortable. Still later, it came from groups that called the players' behavior harrassment and pushed for an investigation. (Sainz apparently did neither.)
Although the self-proclaimed "hottest reporter in Mexico" has plenty of flesh-baring, bikini-wearing cheesecake shots floating around the Internet, she described the outfit she wore in the lockerroom as bell-bottomed jeans and a white top. In truth, in some photos posted online, the jeans appear so tight you can practically sequence her DNA from the cheap seats.
Her curvaceous, form-fitting silhouette allegedly managed to trigger something akin to an impromptu rutting season among members of the professional football team. It touched off a TV talk show debate on appropriate dress code and workplace demeanor in the process.
Is she still employed? Why, yes she is.
Too sexy for Citi
At least Sainz's overt hotness wasn't a firing offense. That's allegedly what happened to a Manhattan banker named Debrahlee Lorenzana in August 2009. In a human-rights claim filed against Citibank by Lorenzana, she says that even though she wore a wholly appropriate workplace wardrobe that included pencil skirts, turtleneck sweaters and business suits, she was fired by the company because her sexiness was deemed too much of a distraction to her male colleagues. (The company says the termination was a matter of poor performance.)
Some observers said Lorenzana's was a case of "dressing for success" — trying to get a leg up by accentuating her assets in a male-driven environment. But it bears pointing out that she has reportedly turned down lucrative offers — posing in the pages of Playboy magazine among them — preferring to raise interest in her stalled banking career instead.
Too sexy for Southwest