Dare to Bare; the story of my ‘Bare Bottom Dress’
25 years ago, I designed a dress that would completely change my life: the ‘Bare Bottom Dress’. (‘Blotebillenjurk’ in Dutch) The dress does exactly what it says; it shows your bottom. It does so dramatically though, with a startling contrast between the long flowy front and the revealing back. Wearing it, I felt strong and sexy, because the design didn’t aim to please in a traditional way. It was a pure expression of my sexual confidence. But would it come across that way? Would men see it as a celebration of female sexuality, or just another piece of ass? There was only one place to find out: Amsterdam’s Red Light District..
Nobody hissed at me, nobody offered me money. The prowling men would even shrink away when I tried to make eye contact. Here I was, walking alone and half-naked through these sexual hunting grounds, and I was untouchable! Slowly coming down from the adrenaline rush, I walked back to my car. It was a balmy summer night, and crossing the busy Leidseplein, I was unaware of the crowds on the pavement terraces till I heard clapping. When I looked up, I realized people were applauding. Me and my ‘blotebillenjurk’ got a standing ovation!
When Wim Pijbes became the Rijksmuseum’s director in 2008, the first acquisition he made was my ‘Bare Bottom Dress’. A few years later, ‘blotebillenjurk’ became an official word and was included in the Dutch dictionary. My dress had become a symbol of a new expression of female sexuality. But it was years earlier, crossing that busy square, that I realized in order to make changes, you have to take risks and bare your soul. (in my particular case, also my behind!) The rewards are great. In the coming weeks, I invite you to journey with me out of your comfort zones. Dare to be.
Model: Marlies Dekkers in Playboy
Photocredit: Inez van Lamsweerde
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