Imagine Kanye West’s sexy wife Bianca Censori walking into a Malaysian restaurant

Recent fashion trends in the West, such as bra exposure and freeing the nipple, may not be welcome in Malaysia where conservatives hold power.

A picture of western superstar couple Kanye West and Bianca Censori
What if Kanye West's wife, Bianca Censori, walks into a Malaysian restaurant dressed like this? (Photo: Getty Images)

A friend sent me a news item via WhatsApp last week about musician Kanye West and his wife Bianca Censori.

After reading the news and seeing the pictures that accompanied two reports about Censori, I was sure she would never be allowed into Malaysia - unless, of course, she covered up.

I was also aghast at the possible number of earthquakes this could cause, especially if she were to visit Iran.

For, in April 2010, an AP report quoted senior Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi as saying that women who wore immodest clothing and behaved promiscuously were to blame for earthquakes.

Effect of women’s dressing on earthquakes

And Iran, of course, is prone to earthquakes.

He was quoted as saying: "Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Sedighi then asked congregants at a Friday prayer: "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?"

I feel Censori loves to dress for the public. Or should that be undress?

Is it dressed or undressed?

It reminds me of James Bond actress Ursula Andress whose name was once wrongly spelled as Undress in one magazine decades ago, and who inspired a song titled “Ursula Undress” by The Stranglers.

I think undress suits Censori better.

One report I read said Censori risked jail time because she had worn nothing but a pair of sheer tights during a shopping trip in Paris. Another said Censori “raised plenty of eyebrows when she stepped out in sheer tights (and sans underwear) for a Parisian date night with Kanye West”.

Although some may go gaga over her dresses, I believe the majority would be swift to question her tailor’s fashion sense and Censori’s predilection for exposure.

Why does she do it? I suppose we should study her hips to find an answer, for, as Shakira sang, hips don’t lie.

I wonder if Italians who saw Censori in August last year, where she was reported to have been dressed in a racy ensemble which featured “a sheer white crop top that left little to the imagination”, shook their heads and felt this is no Madonna – which is how Italians respectfully referred to a lady in earlier days.

Some have accused West of holding all the keys to her wardrobe sense.

While on the topic of dresses and undressing, I decided to dive into some related reports and found that many western women celebrities are more than happy to show skin, even appearing in see-throughs.

Free the nipple in vogue

I found too that western fashion has happily embraced the “free the nipple” movement that began in 2012 which basically asked why women should not bare their chests in public when men could.

A whole list of actors and other celebrities have now and then appeared without their brassiere, with many giving more than a hint of their nipples underneath their dresses.

The latest trend, I learn, is exposing the bra.

Instyle reported on 13 January that actor Natalie Portman arrived at the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio “in a little black dress with a classic strapless silhouette and a juxtaposing mesh bra neckline” and that the “sheer bra top peeked out from the top of the mini”.

In fact, top women actors are proudly showing off their undergarments, or glimpses of their undergarments, on the red carpet these days.

But that fashion may not be new as I have seen some young Malaysian girls happily showing, or being unbothered, that their bra straps were visible.

During my young adulthood, this was considered sacrilegious.

Well, I suppose fashions change, but still there has to be some sense of decency.

But how do we define decency in dressing?

In Malaysia: Constant battle with conservatives

Most urban Malaysians and the authorities are frequently at odds over what decent dressing means.

For instance, there is a constant tussle between Malaysians who think there’s nothing wrong with skirts that are touching the knee or just above the knee and the authorities who say skirts must be well below the knee.

In Malaysia, anyone wearing a skirt that’s above the knee, or sometimes even touching the knee, may be denied entry into government buildings. Even men wearing shorts may not be entertained at government service counters.

For instance, on 26 June last year, a non-Muslim woman in the state of Kelantan – which is ruled by Islamist party PAS - was issued a fine for wearing “indecent clothing”.

The 35-year-old woman operating a clothing business was found to be wearing a pair of shorts in her own shop.

In March that year, a woman visitor to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Pahang was denied entry because she was wearing a pair of shorts that apparently did not cover her knees. Most Malaysians who saw the video clip of the woman’s dress felt it was decent enough.

Earlier in February, a 21-year-old woman claimed she was denied treatment at the Kampar Hospital in Perak because she was wearing shorts. She said she was told by a medical officer to change to a pair of long pants before being allowed entry into the emergency room.

In August 2023, a woman claimed she was denied entry into a police station in Kajang, Selangor, despite wearing shorts that covered her knees.

On 15 June the same year, PAS MP Wan Razali Wan Nor called for a change in the dress code for nurses because he felt their uniform was too tight and showed “their body shape”.

That takes the cake, of course. But someone ought to study whether tight uniforms help or hinder patient recovery – especially male patient recovery.

Taylor Swift performed for over three hours, and still managed to dance through her final song at National Stadium. (PHOTO: TAS Rights Management)
Taylor Swift, for instance, is taking Singapore by storm, with tickets sold out for her March 2 to 9 shows. Malaysians are lamenting that she is not performing in Kuala Lumpur. (PHOTO: TAS Rights Management)

Reason why Taylor Swift, Beyonce skipped Malaysia

This conservative – some would say ultraconservative attitude – is one reason, but not the only one, why many international artistes such as Beyonce, Celine Dion and Katy Perry skipped Malaysia on their tours. They probably did not want to compromise on, or “tone down”, their performance or dressing.

Taylor Swift, for instance, is taking Singapore by storm, with tickets sold out for her March 2 to 9 shows. Malaysians are lamenting that she is not performing in Kuala Lumpur.

In fact, protests have been held by Muslim groups in the past against some performances and performers.

In this sort of situation, can you imagine Censori, clothed as she usually is, walking into a restaurant in Malaysia?

Having said that, I do feel self-censoring would do Censori some good.

A.Kathirasen is a veteran Malaysian journalist/editor who has been writing columns, with breaks, in newspapers and online since 1981. All views expressed are the writer's own.

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