A risqué mannequin is raising eyebrows in downtown Reading. A boutique on Penn Street displayed the scantily-clad dummy for all to see.
Then the city stepped in and asked that it be taken down. But did the city have the right to do it?
It's clad in leather, chains and little else. The outfit may work on some streets, but apparently not in Reading.
The city asked Little Paris, the Penn Street boutique displaying the provocative piece, to take it inside and off the street.
"I was especially concerned with the bondage," said Councilwoman Marcia-Goodman-Hinnershitz. "It said something in our perceptions of women. Not a message we want to as we reshape our downtown."
Goodman-Hinnershitz brought up the issue at Monday night's council meeting, suggesting the risqué mannequin be removed.
"I don't want to fight, so why fight with such a small community. I need them. Those are our customers," said Kande Djaka, the store's manager.
A pair of police officers stopped by the store on Tuesday and asked Djaka to take the mannequin inside. She did.
But did the store, which still shows an array of scantly clad mannequins outside, have to?
"This is not a residential area. It is commercial. If you don't want to see the lingerie, you don't have to come to Penn Street," Djaka said.
According to city code, any business that wants a sidewalk display needs a permit, but the city admits laws are vague on the dress, or lack there of, for mannequins.
"They don't have a right. It's a business. We have worse issues than naked mannequins on Penn Street," said one passerby.
"Too explicit for children to be looking at. They should know nothing about that," another passerby said.
"This is in our society. The human body is a work of art," said another passerby on Penn Street.
The store, which has been around for 18 months, is reverting to the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity. It's hoping the attention boosts sales.
Little Paris may be laughing all the way to the bank. Before the clothing controversy, the shop said it was already selling five of the outfits per week.
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