It seems to have started in 2006, when the all of America shared—or perhaps overshared—a certain view of Ms. Britney Spears. Before the even more famous getting-out-of-the-car crotch shot incident, in the middle of an extremely high profile interview with Matt Lauer, she shifted in her chair and gave the world a preview of what was to come: Because the skirt she had chosen to wear was veryteeny and her moves weren’t discrete enough, flashed her unclad female bits to the cameras—and, by extension, millions of watching viewers. Within hours, photos and video were everywhere, jokes and insults were flying, and Britney’s dignity (what little she still had left) was pretty much history.
In the wake of Brit-Brit’s first of many future incidents, similar gaffes have proliferated among high-profile starlets who cherish their teeny frocks. Lindsay and Paris spring to mind as repeat offenders, but so many women have been caught by now that Glamour magazine actually ran an end-of-2007 salute to the handful of celebrities they could find who hadn’t been caught crotch first in their mini-skirts (congrats, Evangeline Lily and Mandy Moore!). So predominant is the trend that articles have actually popped up offering step-by-step instructions for how to successfully exit a limo or car without showing the goods.
It’s enough to make minis seem so slutty and overexposed at times that we want to pack up all of our formerly favorite flirty little numbers—which, incidentally, have always made us feel sexily in charge, when worn at just the right moments—and give them to Goodwill. But the embattled garment responsible for such incidents has fought such image problems since its creation nearly 50 years ago. So we ask: Is a high hemline a sign of empowerment, or overexposure? Is it feminist—“I may be smart and capable but I can still be sexy”—or just foolish?