Last year, Florence Pugh found herself at the center of public attention after wearing a totally sheer dress at the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter fashion show.
Florence initially poked fun at the fact that her nipples were entirely visible through the Barbie-esque dress, writing on Instagram, “Technically they’re covered?”
But sadly, several internet users immediately kicked up a fuss over the harmless dress, and couldn’t help but share their unsolicited negative opinions across social media.
Florence wound up addressing some of the “vulgar” comments she’d seen about her body, noting that she’d anticipated a huge reaction to the sheer dress before she stepped out in it.
“Listen, I knew when I wore that incredible Valentino dress that there was no way there wouldn’t be a commentary on it,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was excited to wear it, not a wink of me was nervous. I wasn’t before, during, or even now after.”
“What’s been interesting to watch and witness is just how easy it is for men to totally destroy a woman’s body, publicly, proudly, for everyone to see. You even do it with your job titles and work emails in your bio..?” she wrote.
“It isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time a woman will hear what’s wrong with her body by a crowd of strangers, what’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be,” she went on. “So many of you wanted to aggressively let me know how disappointed you were by my ‘tiny tits,’ or how I should be embarrassed by being so ‘flat chested.’”
“I’ve lived in my body for a long time. I’m fully aware of my breast size and am not scared of it. What’s more concerning is…. Why are you so scared of breasts? Small? Large? Left? Right? Only one? Maybe none? What. Is. So. Terrifying,” Florence added, before urging readers to “grow up” and “respect all women.”
And now, she’s opening up about the initial criticism toward her pink Valentino dress in more detail.
Sitting down with Elle for a candid conversation with Jodie Turner-Smith, Florence noted that she believes this sort of outrage stems from how “terrified” people are of “freedom” when it comes to displaying women’s bodies.
“I think the scariest thing for me are the instances where people have been upset that I’ve shown ‘too much’ of myself,” she said. “When everything went down with the Valentino pink dress a year ago, my nipples were on display through a piece of fabric, and it really wound people up.”
“It’s the freedom that people are scared of; the fact I’m comfortable and happy,” she continued. “Keeping women down by commenting on their bodies has worked for a very long time. I think we’re in this swing now where lots of people are saying, ‘I don’t give a shit.’”
“Unfortunately, we’ve become so terrified of the human body that we can’t even look at my two little cute nipples behind fabric in a way that isn’t sexual,” she said, before adding, “We need to keep reminding everybody that there is more than one reason for women’s bodies [to exist].”
Florence went on to note that she hasn’t always been super confident wearing sheer outfits to public events.
“When I first started doing red carpets, it was really tough. It takes ages to feel comfortable with 50 men all shouting, ‘Picture, over here!’ I’ve become more confident in the last few years, and I think that’s hugely linked to the clothes I’ve been wearing,” she shared. “The more you can enjoy it, the more [people] can see that you’re enjoying it.”
And Florence explained that as she’s grown more comfortable, she’s remained more and more focused on refusing to hide particular parts of her body that society has long encouraged women to feel ashamed about.
“I speak the way I do about my body because I’m not trying to hide the cellulite on my thigh or the squidge in between my arm and my boob: I would much rather lay it all out,” she said.