My mother was very clear: wearing Daisy Dukes or booty shorts was against everything we stood for. Out on the town, if we saw a young girl wearing a pair, Mom quickly labeled the wayward child a promiscuous, “fast” girl before questioning how she was raised. Sound familiar?
Some of you may remember the inspiration behind the itty-bitty shorts: Daisy Mae Duke, a character from the popular TV show in the 1980s played by Catherine Bach. The character was revived in 2005 when Jessica Simpson played Daisy in the movie “The Dukes of Hazzard,” donning the same trademark short denim shorts.
When they wore Daisy Dukes, they weren’t “huzzies” or “loose women.” Their sexuality, as expressed through these shorts, was characterized as fun, free and harmless. It wasn’t merely accepted, but encouraged in both the show and subsequent film. The character was made to be the heartthrob of men and the envy of women: beautiful, alluring and desired.
The look became synonymous with vixens with mile-long legs, a full head of hair and a penchant for carefree flirting. The most contemporary example of this free-spirited, fun-loving and sexy Daisy Duke woman is Katy Perry in the video, California Girls.
Now that the weather is noticeably warmer, Daisy Dukes are enjoying a resurgence in everyday wardrobes, having been spotted on celebrities like Keri Hilson, Angela Simmons, Meagan Good, Beyonce and Rolling Stone’s latest cover subject, Rihanna.
On the cover, Rihanna’s shorts appear painted on and are so shredded they look more like a denim bikini bottom. While some people loved the cover and praised Rihanna’s bad girl image, others dismissed it as suggestive, slutty and classless, just like my mother said.
Unsurprisingly, now that I’m older my opinion on the shorts mirrors my mother’s. Every time I see a woman pouring out of her booty shorts on the street I want to give her a ticket for indecent exposure. The holes and rips in the back and those befuddling moments where the pockets are actually longer than the shorts (*cough*, *cough,* Meagan Good) all seem like a desperate and unbecoming cry for attention.
When I asked a male friend casually what he thought about it, I fully expected him to say how much he loved seeing half a woman’s booty exposed. Instead, he shared that daisy dukes aren’t offensive on white women as they are primarily boy-shaped on the bottom (even if they are top-heavy like Jessica Simpson). Black women, however, are too curvy in the hips, butt and thighs to recreate the sexy yet tasteful look that the fictitious Daisy Duke achieved in her show.
I immediately informed him that not all black women have curves and white women like Jessica Biel are too happy to show off their lower lady lumps. I also pointed out that white and black cultures traditionally have different relationships toward sexuality, citing the response toward Rihanna’s shorts (labeled “slutty,”) and Katy Perry’s (barely acknowledged by comparison) as a recent example.
But I wonder: are booty shorts only offensive on women with an actual booty, and never otherwise? Would you rock a pair of itty-bitty shorts? Who gets away with it and who doesn’t? Why is it embraced differently in black culture than white?