Nacogdoches isn’t a stranger to the night scene. There are popular places, such as Banita Creek Hall, Frogs and the newcomer, Icon Nac. For the past three weekends, Icon has hosted events to attract students and residents for a fun night out. One of the recent events was a Lingerie Ball and Contest. The nightclub offered a grand prize of an all paid, two-night trip to Las Vegas for two with a cash prize of $500. Second place won $100 cash prize combined with a spot in the VIP section and third place won a $50 cash prize with a bottle of champagne. On the surface, the idea of a lingerie contest wasn’t too extreme for the town, but the contest seemed only focused on female college students. There wasn't even an age limit set on the event announcement. As more details that surface gives the idea of such an event become unsettling feeling and raised the question, was this exploitative to the women participating?
One thing that makes this event seem less “empowerment” is that there were only girls in the contest. "It was just about girls. I mean, you didn’t see guys dressed up for the event just girls,” said an anonymous source.
The winner of the contest, junior Cerena Haefs, disagreed since no one was forced to dress in revealing clothing. “However, I was shocked that we had to dance on the stage,” said Haefs. “I wasn’t prepared for that; and, to be fully honest, I wasn’t the most comfortable with it.”
Even though the contestants were okay with the contest and wore what was comfortable to them, the lack of a public age limit is concerning. One could argue it's a given that club patrons have to be 18 years old or older to get into the club. However, to keep this event safe, an age limit needs to be posted for future circumstances. The sign-up process also seemed unprofessional, as contestants put down their names at the club before the event started. “Someone had a clipboard with the top 10 contestants,” Haefs said. “I was walking out of the bathroom when I got pulled over to be signed up.” Haefs said she was wearing a corset under a fur coat and shorts.
The owner of Icon could not be reached. Marketing Director Jalene Quinones was able to provide statements. “We do not seek to exploit anybody, regardless of their sex, race or religion."
She included that security for the event consisted of police officers who were nearby in case things got out of hand. She also said the event was just a place to have fun for the customers.
So, why exactly did they go with a Lingerie theme? “At Icon, we strive to provide an exciting, sexy, overall wonderful experience on every visit,” Quinones said. “For women, nightclubs are a great place to dance with your friends and meet new people. We thought a Lingerie Ball would be a great way to get people excited about the night and our venue.” She also mentioned that the group in charge of planning the event consisted mostly female SFA students, along with some other employees. They chose the Lingerie theme over 90s night and a foam party.
There's nothing wrong with women showing off more skin than. More and more people are using that as empowerment towards women to rewrite the narrative that women should always cover up and be modest if they want to be taken seriously. “I’m constantly ridiculed about what I wear every day, so I wasn’t mind blown that people hated on me for what I wore,” Haefs said. “The worst thing I got was indirectly being slut-shamed for dancing on stage. I wore what I felt confident in, so I didn’t let it get into my head.”
Yet, the fact that the owner is an older man and the advertisement felt directed only toward younger girls sends a chill down the spine. Haefs was given $500 in cash after she won but said she does not have details about her trip to Vegas.