(which simply means "suit" in Arabic) is an Arabian-influenced belly dancing costume which was actually invented by English artists in the 19th 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. The bottoms might be "harem pants" instead of a skirt or wrap. Sometimes the outfit will be topped off with a little veil that covers the lower half of the face.
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 the 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.
Films — Animated
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- Princess Jasmine in Aladdin is possibly the single most famous bedlah-wearer, in the harem pants and the little off-the-shoulder belly top.
- Also, the 3 Balcony Harem Girls.
- 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 Chipettes in The Chipmunk Adventure.
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. Somewhat justified in that they're circus performers wearing their costumes, but it doesn't not explained why they're dressed that way for a surprise attack on the villain's base.
- 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 1965 film adaptation of the H. Rider Haggard novel She goes the extra Fanservice mile when one of the Bedlah Babes dancing in the bar wears pasties over her nipples instead of a bra.
- This trope dates at least as far back as Two Arabian Knights (1927), in which the very white Mary Astor plays an Arab princess in the stereotypical outfit.
- The title character in I Dream of Jeannie may have played a major role in cementing this trope in North American popular culture.
- Firefly: In the flashback episode "Out of Gas", Inara Serra, a high-class Companion (a mix between a courtesan and a geisha), is shown to be wearing a Middle East style Bare Your Midriff outfit. She mostly wore clothes reminiscent of the Far East on the show.
- King Tut, a recurring villain from the Batman 60s television series had a few female henchmen who dressed like this.
- Ariel Val'Shargress and various other members of the cast happen to don these outfits fairly frequently in the Drowtales side comic known as "Slavemaster" in the Daydream Archive. Fair Warning though, said comic is definitely not safe for work. In fact the entire Slavemaster Storyline is about the efforts made by one yellow-eyed demon in building a Harem out of the cast of the main Drowtales Storyline.
- Certain female Naga have been known to wear these outfits as well, even in the main archive which is generally work friendly.
- And then of course there is Asira'malika Val'Jaal'darya. She is one of the Ill'haresses (Queens) of Chel'el'sussoloth (the Capital of the Drow Empire). Her entire wardrobe consists of nothing but different renditions of this outfit. She is the single most Fanservice oriented character in the main archive. And that's saying something. Especially since her eyes are quite the fandisservice
- In an episode of Totally Spies! called "Aliens", the girls dressed themselves in Arab outfits.
- Also in "Queen for a Day"
- Julie in the "desert" episodes of The Twins of Destiny (Les Jumeaux du Bout du Monde) such as "Danger in the Desert" and "Desert Adventure".
- Sabrina dresses up as one in the Sabrina's Secret Life episode called "J'Achoo"
- Some featured in Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights.