The bedlah is an Arabian-influenced belly dancing costume which was actually invented by Western artists in the nineteenth century, but became so closely associated with belly dancing that it was adopted by real-life dancers.
Bedlah costumes will vary depending on the work, but there is a general emphasis on showing skin. A bare midriff
is more or less essential; a low neckline (sometimes impossibly so
) is optional. Many variations include large amounts of sheer material, generally to display the legs as well.
Today, the bedlah has become the standard costume for female characters in Arabian Nights Days
, from princesses to female genies (witness how many fancy dress companies manufacture costumes of this type with names like "Arabian Nights Woman", or see the results that come up if you do an image search on "Arabian princess"). This is an example of Artistic License – History
in the name of Fanservice
: even leaving aside the fact that the costume is a Western invention, it would logically only be worn by belly dancers and perhaps harem girls. Dressing an Arabian princess like this is rather like dressing a European princess as a go-go dancer.
Please note that, if they belly dancing outfit is being worn by a character who is actually a belly dancer
, then it's an example of the Belly Dancer
trope. this trope is primarily for works which portray the bedlah as everyday dress for Arabian women.
Live Action TV
- This has appeared in several James Bond movies.
- The Spy Who Loved Me. The harem girls who work for Bond's friend Hosein wear this garb.
- Octopussy. Some of Octopussy's female minions dress like this during the infiltration/attack against an enemy stronghold.
- Caroline Munro's character in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is a justified example, as she is a slave girl.
- Maria Montez's outfit in the 1942 film Arabian Nights is a relatively tame example.
- The 1938 short "Wee Wee Monsieur" starring The Three Stooges has the stooges infiltrating an Arabian/Berber palace to rescue an officer, Captain Gorgonzola. Once inside, they encounter several harem girls dressed in belly dance outfits.
- The title character in I Dream of Jeannie may have played a major role in cementing this trope in popular culture.
- The lead character in Shantae is a female genie who dresses like this.
- Princess Jasmine in Aladdin is possibly the single most famous bedlah-wearer, in the harem pants and the little off-the-shoulder belly top.
- Princess Yum-Yum from The Thief and the Cobbler manages to make the look even more Stripperiffic with a sheer veil over her mouth.
- The princess in the feature-length Mr. Magoo cartoon 1001 Arabian Nights (despite its title, actually a retelling of Aladdin) wears much the same top as her Disney counterpart from a few decades later, although her dress is longer and closer to the traditional European-style fairy tale princess.
- The outfit worn by Princess Orinjade in Astérix and the Magic Carpet is probably meant to invoke this trope, as the comic is based heavily around Arabian Nights Days inconography. However, the story takes place in India, so there is more justification than usual as Indian women do have a history of wearing midriff-baring saris.