Spears and Aguilera: Less is more

(U-WIRE) IOWA CITY, Iowa Yeah, she did it again, all right, and so did Christina. But there’s no “oops” about it. The two most prominent teen idols in the country, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, showcased more than just their voices at the Sept. 7 MTV Video Music Awards. Meanwhile, much of the viewing public sat gaping in their living rooms at the peculiar lack of clothing.
Pop sensation Spears appeared in a barely there, flesh-toned stretch outfit with a minuscule top during her performance at the show. Likewise, fellow songster Aguilera arrived “wearing” what appeared to be Brooke Shields’ leftover wardrobe from Blue Lagoon: small amounts of torn material hanging by threads. It looks as if the phrase “less is more” is sweeping the country, prompting musicians to consult their stylists and swagger into the public practically naked.
This concept is hardly new. Award shows consistently turn into celebrity contests to bare the most skin, proving delightful to some viewers and revolting to many others. Lately, the ages of the curiously undressed have been remarkably low. Spears, 18, garnered mixed opinion for her decision to wear the skimpy get-up.
No longer a minor, she can get away with her exhibitionist image without causing the magnitude of last year’s public discomfort. Still, the relentless flaunting of the young singer’s sexuality accounts for much of her fan adulation — among girls and boys alike.
Spears and Aguilera, role models to millions of young girls, show no anxiety about their evocative outfits and suggestive gestures and lyrics. After all, the legacy dates back to their forerunner, music’s original sassy pop vamp, Madonna.
But lest the public forget, Madonna began her rise to fame in her mid-20s. Not until years later did she begin to shed considerable amounts of clothing. Spears, however, has already chosen to showcase her body as the main attraction. The mere mention of her name evokes thoughts of tight, leather tube tops and hot pants.
Spears, along with Aguilera, ‘NSYNC, Eminem and other relatively young artists, receive a sizeable chunk of their publicity in magazines like “J-14,” which are predominantly marketed toward pre-teen girls.
Soon, 9-year-old girls everywhere will be on the lookout for the latest flesh-toned pants and sequin-spangled bikini tops.
Success in the music industry does not require pseudo-nudity on stage. Peers of Spears and Aguilera, including Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore, fight the trend and regularly appear in conservative dress. Their success invalidates the assumption that wholesome images flounder. More importantly, it proves that talent can suffice to propel performers to stardom.
Try it, Britney, one more time.

Liz Basedow’s column originally appeared in the University of Iowa’s Daily Iowan on Sept. 13. Send comments to [email protected]