Kristen Baldwin
December 22, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

We, as a nation, are obsessed with Spears’ body. Ever since she shook her teenage tuchis to ”…Baby One More Time,” we’ve been anxiety-ridden about her flesh: Is she showing too much of it? Is all of it real? With her audacious performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, Miss Spears twisted our corporeal fixation to her advantage. Emerging on stage in a sequined black suit, breathily crooning the Rolling Stones’ ”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” she shocked the audience out of its stupor when, in a single, fluid motion, she tore the ensemble from her frame. Underneath? A flesh-colored bikini top with matching pants slung low enough to expose a rhinestone-studded thong. Our little girl wasn’t just growing up — she was darn near naked! Like Madonna, who writhed in a trampy wedding dress during the VMAs in 1984, Spears embraced her critics’ ”too sexy, too soon” tut-tutting, converting it into a captivating act of ”Look at me!” showmanship. Shimmying her much-discussed bosoms, pounding the stage in a Flashdance-like fury, Britney laid her sexuality bare — and we, of course, couldn’t look away.

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