Who likes short shorts?

FEBRUARY 17 ― Singapore is hot. Sweltering. Scorching. On any given afternoon, you are guaranteed to be sweating.

Which is why our general dress-code is sensibly casual. Shorts and flip-flops are accepted in most places, as they should be. 

There was a brief spell in the 90s when the sillier among us tried to shame Singaporeans for not dressing “well” ― read atas ― in a generally Western manner totally incongruent with our climate.

The reality is that the pictures of fashionable people in Vogue etc generally aren't shot on the tropical streets of Tiong Bahru.

If they were, I'm sure the big fashion houses would major in lines of butt-shorts, singlets and slippers.

Just when it seemed like sanity was prevailing when it came to the subject of dress in Singapore, a recent online outburst concerning the dressing of a young woman spotted at an ATM has made clear that the era of the fashion police hasn't quite ended. 

Of course policing young women's bodies is always in fashion, which is why social media exploded over photos of a young woman in an admittedly skimpy singlet (it covered everything that needed to be covered, legally speaking) while standing in the queue for an ATM at Somerset MRT station.

Effectively, some busybody thought it was not only right but righteous to photograph another person just minding her own business and post it online expressly for the purpose of shaming her.

Of course the exposed flesh of a young woman and the subsequent discovery the girl in question was a foreigner (from the Philippines) meant an outpouring of condemnation and out and out cyber bullying.

The hundreds of comments sparked by the photograph aren't worth repeating but women don't need this. No one does. 

Thousands decided to waste precious seconds bashing nonsense on keyboards to “teach” her that she cannot behave “indecently.”

These keyboard warriors for modesty unsurprisingly overlooked the fact that commenting on things that don’t concern you, with the express and sole purpose of shaming and causing hurt is the very definition of indecent.

Sure, the outfit did not put the woman in question in the running for Ms Modesty 2019 but it was well within the bounds of legality and the reality is there are hundreds ― if not thousands ― of women who go around every day wearing much the same.

Not to mention no shortage of topless men of all ages and sizes everywhere; including at the apparently hallowed shrines that are ATMs.

T-shirts and shorts are arguably our national costume; for both men and women.  I have long been proud of the fact that as a (increasingly less) young woman, I can wear more or less what I want without fear of consequences ― this is  not something women can do in every nation. As long at it's legal and harms no one else, it is really a non-issue.

Yet the condemnation and online harassment was such that the woman in the picture offered an apology on her Facebook page: “I apologise if I offended any culture with this outfit, but, please understand that I do not have any obscene or malicious intention by wearing it.”

It was a fairly breezy reply but it was unnecessary. The only apology, as she herself points out later, should come from the person who took the photo.

Taking out some cash without a bra on under your shirt is perfectly fine ― but  snapping photos and posting them online to hurt someone? Now that's something to consider banning.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.