Paris: French woman denied entry to Musée d’Orsay over revealing neckline

The Musée d'Orsay art museum in Paris apologised to a woman after agents refused to let her in until she covered up a low-cut dress.

Paris: French woman denied entry to Musée d'Orsay over revealing neckline
Photo: AFP

The incident prompted an outpouring of indignation on social media.


In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the woman, identified as “To” with the handle @jeavnne, recounted how two female agents confronted her to say she would be denied entry unless she put on her jacket, despite the summer heat.

“I asked them clearly, 'Why is the fact that I have a low neckline a problem?'… They didn't answer, they just insisted that rules are rules,” she wrote in a letter, next to a picture of her in the dress.

She also noted the irony of being shamed over her breasts at a museum that features a plethora of nude sculptures and paintings, including masterpieces by Edouard Manet and Gustave Courbet.

After accepting to put on her jacket and being allowed inside, she saw that plenty of women were wearing halter tops and other clothing that could be considered just as revealing, “but they were all skinny, with very small breasts.”

“I wonder if I would have been allowed in if I were wearing the outfits some of these women were wearing,” she wrote.

READ ALSO: Why are French women posting pictures of their cleavage on Twitter?

The account soon went viral and drew scorn from thousands of commenters.


“We deeply regret this and present our sincere excuses to the person involved, whom we are trying to contact,” the Musée d'Orsay said in a statement on Twitter.


It was the latest incident in recent weeks suggesting that France does not always live up to its reputation as a bastion of personal liberty, in particular when it concerns a woman's body.

Last month, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin rebuked officers in the Mediterranean beach town of Sainte-Marie-la-Mer after they asked a group of topless sunbathers to cover up following complaints from a family.

And the Casino supermarket chain apologised last month after media reports recounted how a young woman trying to buy diapers in Six-Fours-les-Plages, near Marseille, was refused entry by a security guard who said her top showed too much skin.

“This attitude is unacceptable and we do not share these values,” Casino said on Twitter, adding that it condemned “all types of discrimination.” 

Member comments

  1. Typical consistency among functionaries at museums and other places in France/Paris. Catch one person–OK, you’ve justified your job. You can now go back to chatting and ignoring what you’re supposed to be doing.

    But then ignore the other 10 people doing the same violation you just enforced.

    Same type of thing has happened to me many times there.

  2. Polite society has boundries, and this violated them in my mind. Attention grabbing dress and behavior always make you look common. This applies to both sexes.

  3. I have to agree with Gordon. It seemed unnecessary to me. I’d certainly be uncomfortable to be around her (my problem not hers), but I’m not sure it is sufficiently provocative to deny entrance to the Musée d’Orsay, but it’s just in rather poor taste.
    As for the argument that the museum contains nude and therefore has no right to object is entirely fallacious and frankly silly. There are not those many nudes or bare breasts (not withstanding Courbet’s provocative, witty and candid “L’origine du monde” in the galleries anyway, but they are specifically created to be looked at, usually in admiration and for furtherance of illustration. I would love to spend time looking in admiration at the young lady’s substantially un-covered breasts, but I don’t doubt I would run into all sorts of problems were I to do so; staring in concentration even if admiringly from a few feet away as I would with a painting or sculpture, and she would, I expect be the first to rightly complain about invasion of privacy, especially if she found herself becoming an exhibit – or perhaps that is the rational? She doesn’t look sufficiently unworldly not to be aware of the mores that society has on the subject so I’m bound to wonder … why? I find her outrage, disingenuous. Perhaps this publicity of her plight is not so accidental. LOL, I expect there is a bonfire being prepared for me somewhere.

  4. Reading the comments here it is refreshing to see sexism alive and well. Without having all the facts the assumption is automatically made that it is her fault. With such outdated attitudes still in evidence it is small wonder issues like this continue to happen in our society.

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