Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, And The Power Of Going Pants-Free

How female pop stars are forsaking pants for a more powerful uniform.

“Don’t you hate pants?!” —Homer Simpson, 1998

In a word, yes. While they were once a symbol of female empowerment, pants eventually grew to be just another means of constraint. They were — and are — too tight, too restricting, too inflexible. They don’t fit everybody the same way, and trends are tailored to appease certain body types and leave anyone on the outside behind. They’re limiting. They’re constraining. And, depending on what type you’re into, they can be really difficult to dance in. Which is why we’re seeing many female artists forgo them in music — especially when there’s something bigger at play.

Not that a lack of pants is anything new. But while bodysuits, onesies, and leotards were commonplace in the punk and disco scenes of the ’70s and ’80s (and in Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” video), they took a backseat in ’90s pop as synthetics found themselves reserved for tube tops, pleather, and faux-fur. But as the 2000s progressed — after pop-punk and softboy indie prioritized makeup-free women with a penchant for modesty — pop began to re-embrace shameless exhibitionism.

Britney Spears’s 2007 VMAs comeback may have been upsetting for many reasons (mainly that she clearly wasn’t ready to perform live yet), but she made her comeback triumphantly pantsless. And while Madonna’s video for “Hung Up” (2005) may have been an homage to ABBA and the era it thrived in, she still showcased her dance moves in a leotard and heels, proving she wasn’t about to be held down by excess fabric.

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