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By Ghia Vitale
Ah, fishnets. In my modest opinion, no other garment compares to fishnets and their instantly beautifying powers. Unfortunately, ignorance causes people to deem them immodest, maybe even moreso than short skirts, V-necks, and the ever-so-controversial yoga pants. Much like yoga pants, I never understood why fishnets have not become fully normalized. Society still considers fishnets risqué despite the visual proof that they abide by the fashion police’s sanctions to cover up my body. And let’s face it: Fishnets cover up more than they reveal, so what’s the big deal? Somehow, the mere presence of fishnet stockings makes any outfit more sultry.
That line of thinking is exactly the reason why I can’t wear fishnets anywhere I damn please and it pisses me off that their appeal is exactly why they’re stigmatized. If Paris were heaven, I’d thank it for sending fishnet stockings to America in 1908, even though the women who wore them get charged with indecent exposure. My native country obviously wasn’t hip to the epic greatness of fishnet stockings because the kinds of ladies who perform at Moulin Rouge wore them. Fishnets were made to be sexy and unlike France at the time, America was still quite uncomfortable with nearly any public acknowledgment of sex. Even today, the stockings remain heavily associated with the sex worker archetype in America's cultural imagination.
Perhaps the first people to dream up wearing fish netting were the Grimm Brothers. They authored “The Clever Peasant’s Daughter," a story about how a peasant’s daughter outwitted a king into marriage. The king told the girl's peasant father that he would agree to marry her if she returned “neither clothed nor naked, neither riding nor driving, neither on the road nor off the road.” It was supposed to be a test of the girl's cleverness. Thus, she disrobed and wrapped herself in a fish net while making sure that her big toe always touched the ground. After tying the fish net to the tail of the rent-an-ass’s help she enlisted, the ass dragged her to the king.
I discovered my love for fishnets when I opted to take dance classes. After a few months of awkwardly bumbling my chubby body around the studio while my peers seamlessly pirouetted, I still hadn’t acquired their grace by the time the recital came. That night, I waited in a big backstage room with lots of bleachers like a makeshift stadium. There I met a girl from another dance studio. As we talked, I noticed how stunning her costume was: a sailor hat, a black-and-white bathing suit, and fishnets. I complimented her fishnets and noted how cool they were compared to the Mr. Bubbles shirt-and-sequined-baseball-cap combo that my dance teacher made me wear. From then on, I always noticed fishnets, my love for them fully resurfacing to my consciousness when I repeatedly saw beautiful women wear them. They became permanently enshrined in my heart when I also saw men look beautiful in them as well. If my soul were to have an avatar, it would gleefully don fishnets.
When I began to truly embrace punk/goth/metal culture at age 12, I was regularly exposed to fishnets as a fashion staple. I always said that fishnets are an essential part of my super hero uniform because whenever I put them on, I feel like their awesomeness activates some kind of wicked super power within me. Whether it was my arms or legs that were fishnetclad, I loved everything about them: their texture against my skin, the organized chaos found in their overlapping patterns, the way they enhance every outfit they join. I didn’t understand why people would honk at me or ask me if I “needed a ride” if I was waiting at a bus stop. Maybe I would be more forgiving if on those occasions I hadn't been covered in spikes, safety pins, and a shirt with a giant “DK” on it. Eventually, I learned that fishnet hosiery is a sex symbol in and of itself.
But I wear fishnets all the time because, as people often tell me, my personality allows me to “pull off” what would otherwise look provocative and out of context. I’m proud to report that my advocacy for fishnets has incited many acquaintances to wear them, bringing them back into the realm of “socially acceptable” clothing. That includes men. Why should only women enjoy wearing fishnets? The time has come to spread fishnet awareness. After all, the only person that doesn’t look good in anything fishnet is a dead fish.
Yet the stigma is clear when elders glare at me whenever my fishnet-clad self enters their impolite company, usually in a small town. Even if my skirt is below my knees, visible fishnet stockings means looks of disapproval from people I’d never want to hang out with. These folks are behind the times. Fishnets are no longer the fashion staple of a call girl’s uniform. Fishnets are for everyone. Anyone who doesn’t think so needs to consider breaking out of their fossil and get hip to the fact that you don’t have to be of any gender, sex, or shape to enjoy them in any possible way.
Contrary to popular belief, people wear fishnets, not the other way around. I wear fishnets because I adore how they look and feel. I wear them for me. If someone finds viewing pleasure in it, that's fine. It only becomes my problem once they make it one. Why destroy the good vibes? Just chill out, guys. They're fishnets. I like to look at them, too, and I might compliment the wearer in passing, but I'm not going to make idiotic snapshot assumptions. I try to treat others how I'd like to be treated, so that usually entails being open-minded. Get the 'net! Literally. It's the same thing with heels: I wear them for me.
I hereby preach full acceptance of fishnets. Rock yours, too.
#RetroSex #Fishnets #MoulinRouge #IndecentExposure #Fashion #Punk #Goth #History #Vintage #Freedom
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