Fortunately, the testimonies of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker distracted the Mindless Media for only a few days. The cable cretins were quick to return to the business of hard news: O. J. Simpson and Britney Spears. Unfortunately, the distraction came at a price. Before Iraq intruded so rudely into the daily deluge of stories about cuddly animals and crass celebrities, the MTV-coated news networks had been exploring Kyla Ebbert. Literally.
Kyla is a blank-faced, empty-eyed vamp, who was bounced off a Southwest airplane because of the outfit she was wearing. Actually, the “Hooters” waitress was told by a flight attendant that her skimpy ensemble was “too provocative and revealing for a family airline.” Fleetingly embarrassed, Kyla covered-up with a blanket for the duration of the flight.
But Kyla’s modesty was a momentary lapse. She was soon doing what (almost) every American who has cause for shame does: suctioning herself to television cameras across the nation’s news networks. Ebbert was invited onto every cable-network set to parade the porn get-up in which she had boarded the plane.
The cameras revealed a skirt so short that hot pants would have been more modest, and more successful at concealing her undies. Kyla also sported one of those cropped, wrap-around tops worn over a tank top, the sole purpose of which was to obscenely accentuate her enormous bosom, so obviously augmented. (The 23-year-old was on her way to a “doctor’s appointment” when this career-catapulting event occurred.)
Mother Ebbert did what every American mother whose offspring has some cause for shame does: publicly support her progeny. Instead of using the opportunity to gently prod the girl toward bettering herself, the elder Ebbert became enraged at the emotional battering her daughter had allegedly received. Mrs. Ebbert motivated for Kyla’s porn apparel with reference to relative, not absolute and objective, standards of decency: “She looks like every other college girl in San Diego,” therefore, “her outfit is fine,” “reasoned” Mrs. Ebbert.
Kyla even cameoed on the “Today” show in her state of undress. There, an indignant Matt Lauer attempted to heighten his audience’s sense of outrage at the injustice Kyla incurred. His display did nothing to conceal her panties: the viewers got an eyeful of those as she stood up and then collapsed on the couch, in an attempt to convince the viewers that her costume was good for any occasion. After that unsubtle performance, Kyla’s legs remained intertwined. As Ebbert’s garb is the standard uniform for the Fox News foxes, they feigned even greater outrage than did Lauer.
The Southwest Airlines personnel ought to have the liberty and license to enforce minimal dress codes on their airplanes, if they so wish—even without including a clause to that effect in their contracts. The airline owns the aircrafts (although all property ownership is nominal due to government regulation). On their property, the airline’s proprietors and personnel have every right to determine how they wish people to behave and dress.
For Southwest to have picked on Ebbert for her apparel may have been prudish, but it was not improper, or in violation of the airline’s contractual obligation to Kyla. The airline didn’t renege on its contract, as it didn’t refuse to transport her, but merely asked her to cover up. Purchasing a service doesn’t grant the consumer unlimited access to the service provider’s property—one can’t demand to travel naked or inebriated, for example.
What I’ve termed the “porn aesthetic” is fast being mainstreamed. Understandably, it’s appealing to men. Who can blame them? Women, however, are generally far more narcissistic and exhibitionistic than males are and habitually ho-up for travel and work. There is sexy and there is skanky. Leaving aside the legal standard for obscenity, there can be no doubt that, with her genitals and mammary glands threatening to burst from beneath stretched-to-the-limits garments, Ebbert’s outfit pandered to the prurient interest.
Southwest is nothing if not consistent. Following Ebbert’s métier, Setara Qassim boarded a plane in Las Vegas dressed in a shimmering, short, halter-neck baby doll. She too got the blanket.
That the Ebbert event was feasted upon by the media and presented as a news item is, ultimately, more revealing than the offending outfit.
©2007 Ilana Mercer