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Florence Pugh nearly broke the internet when she appeared at a Valentino couture fashion show in Paris wearing a pink tulle dress with a sheer top that put her nipples on display. Although she knew that it'd get a reaction, she told Harper's Bazaar that she wasn't expecting quite as big an uproar as there was.
"I was comfortable with my small breasts. And showing them like that — it aggravated [people] that I was comfortable," she told the publication. "It was just alarming, how perturbed they were. They were so angry that I was confident, and they wanted to let me know that they would never wank over me. Well, don’t."
The 26-year-old actress had posted photos of the look to her Instagram addressing the obvious with a cheeky caption. "Technically they’re covered?" she wrote. More importantly, she shared how "magical" she had felt wearing the dress that she conceptualized with designer Pierpaolo Piccioli. "Thank you again, my beautiful team, for making my pink princess dreams come true," the caption continued.
But just one day later, she took to her social media again to address a spew of negative and "vulgar" comments about her body that she had received in response to the dress. "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," she wrote. "What’s more concerning is ... why are you so scared of breasts? Small? Large? Left? Right? Only one? Maybe none? What. Is. So. Terrifying."
The public dialogue about her body that stemmed from that single appearance felt familiar to the reaction that Pugh had seen to a trailer of her upcoming film Don't Worry Darling, which had premiered just two months prior. Audiences were quickly invested in the intimate moments shown between Pugh and her co-star Harry Styles, rather than the rest of the story.
"When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry," she said. "Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that."
The fascination that people have when it comes to her personal life and romantic relationships is similarly uncomfortable for Pugh.
"Whenever I feel like that line has been crossed in my life, whether it’s paparazzi taking private moments, or moments that aren’t even real, or gossip channels that encourage members of the public to share private moments of famous people walking down the street, I think it’s incredibly wrong," she explained. "I don’t think that people, just because they have this job, that every aspect of their life should be watched and written about. We haven’t signed up for a reality TV show."
When it came to her recent split from actor-director Zach Braff, it was that unwanted attention that made the couple decide to keep their break up private.
"We’ve been trying to do this separation without the world knowing, because it’s been a relationship that everybody has an opinion on," she said. "We just felt something like this would really do us the benefit of not having millions of people telling us how happy they are that we’re not together. So we’ve done that. I automatically get a lumpy throat when I talk about it."
Although Pugh's celebrity has subjected her to this public curiosity and scrutiny, she relies on family and friends who remain unfazed by it all to keep her grounded.
"I went to see my gran, and she goes, 'So what’s all of this business about your nipples then?'" the actress recalled, sharing that she pulled out a few photos of herself in the pink gown to show her grandmother. "She gasped because the dress was so beautiful."
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