Feminist Friday: Red Carpet Roulette

Ah, the timeless and unedifying pastime of critiquing women’s appearance on the red carpet. Woman goes out in public, woman is dissected for choice of apparel and shape of body; a tale as old as time. It’s been forever since I bought a magazine, so when I found myself in front of the TV last week watching a panel of ‘stylists’ discuss the hits and misses of the week’s celebrity events, I must admit I found it ever so slightly distasteful, mean, and out dated.

First off we had Bryce Dallas Howard, described as a ‘curvy girl.’ She’s 35, so probably a woman, but we’ll slide past that for now. We all know what curvy is a synonym for: Howard is a gargantuan in Celebville and has to buy her red carpet dresses at the shops because the designers don’t cater for a woman of her magnitude. Gosh, you must be thinking, I don’t recall her as being so freakishly large. Well,  depending on the article, Howard is either a US dress size 4 or 6, which I think is an 8 or 10 in the UK. Huge. Anyway, according to our esteemed panel of stylists, Howard did not pass the ‘acceptably dressed woman’ test because she was not showing enough flesh. You see, because she is curvy, we were told, she should have shown a bit of cleavage, you know ‘flaunted those curves.’ No worry, she’ll know for next time to show a bit more skin, and dodge those bullets.

Next up was Mariah Carey: the stylists tell us Mariah ‘loves her curves!’ Great – good for her! A woman happy in her own skin; a rare occurence to be applauded and encouraged.  Oh – but, no. They see you , Mariah, happy in your skin and they are here to put a dampener on that. Unlike Bryce, who had covered up her cleavage and should be showing more, Mariah is showing too much. Would you credit that? It’s almost like women can’t win no matter what they wear. Dear Stylists, do please let us know what the optimum cleavage exposure is.

Poor Sharon Stone was next and was encountering more boob related problems. Sharon was not wearing a bra. Actual ‘eww’ faces were made. Stone was also criticized for looking ‘too casual’ – she was wearing a cardigan over her dress. Shame on her for not wanting to be cold in the name of glamour. Possibly Stone, veteran of the red carpet, knew she would get criticized whatever she wore and decided she would dress to suit herself instead of trying to fit in with some ever changing set of randomly designed rules.

But, fear not, it was not all bad news. Kendall Jenner looked amazing. As did someone else, whom I didn’t know, but who looked remarkably similar to Kendall Jenner. Basically the slim and staggeringly beautiful looked amazing, because of course they did.

Look, I have watched this type of show a million times before and am no stranger to a celeb magazine. I have taken pleasure in turning the pages and browsing these articles and making my own judgements on women. And sometimes, people do wear things that are a little…outlandish, but you know, each to their own and all that. Watching this, I just all of a sudden felt incredibly uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Everyone has a job to do, but the stylists who pronounce on these matters  – would they be happy if the shoe was on the other foot? Because women, this negativity is not a good look on you. We all like to look at famous women wearing nice clothes, human nature. But we don’t need to accept the attacks that go along with it. You’re allowed not to like what someone’s wearing, you’re allowed not to like them as a person – feminism doesn’t mean loving every woman who ever existed – but don’t TELL them, don’t go on national TV and tell the WORLD you think they look garbage.

Who amongst us would be happy to be subject to this level of scrutiny? Who amongst us wouldn’t admit to having their feelings slightly hurt if someone told them they looked like a sack of hammers when actually they thought they looked pretty good? Who would feel great having people making eww faces when confronted with their boobs? Who looks and feels 100% confident everytime they leave the house ? I’ll tell you who , Mariah Carey. I would think, I hope, that Mariah Carey does not have her confidence dented by the constant criticism under which she finds herself, but as we all know, that’s not really the point. In criticising her we are sending out a message to women and girls everywhere – reign yourself in, do not love your body, do not ‘love your curves.’ Because let’s be clear here, it’s not the clothes that are being criticised , it’s the women. In TV shows and magazines marketed to women this is what we are selling – negativity and criticism for all but the most perfect of us. I couldn’t help but notice when watching this section, that it was the ‘curvier’ and the older women who came under attack, the women with whom most of us would more readily identify, than with the Kendall Jenners of the world. ( PS I know Kendall Jenner can’t help being young and being beautiful, this is not an attack on the young and beautiful. If you are reading this and you look like Kendall Jenner, well, fair play to you.)

I don’t want to be a party pooper and stop the red carpet analysis altogether, but how about framing it slightly differently. How about a new segment – Doesn’t she look….. great, happy, confident, successful, clever? Insert appropriate adjective here. After all, to paraphrase, the world would be a  boring place if all women on the red carpet dressed the same.

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28 comments

  1. I loved reading this article. I have stopped buying those magazines where stylists analyse what a woman wears. It is always a woman they pick on. We have a long way to go with this problem. In my opinion, it is getting worse because of social media . Social media enables us to hide our flaws and what we actually look like with filters

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great piece, very on point. I wonder if the stylists have an algorithm for the perfect amount of cleavage? They don’t seem to get the irony of their contradictions.
    I love looking at the outfits and admiring women on the red carpet, but I agree there is a lot of nastiness that goes along with it. Did it use to be this way? Historically, red carpet commentary, was it always like this? I don’t know, and I’d genuinely like to know at what point it changed if it used to be less mercenary.
    I used to buy the celebrity magazines which do these ‘Circle of Shame’ type features, and I’m quite embarrassed by it now – what was I thinking, indeed.

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  3. This is a great read and makes an important point. It is absolutely not the clothes that are being critiqued. I love looking at the ‘what they wore’ things in the magazines, because I love clothes, but I find I rarely agree with whether or not they are deemed to look ‘hot’ or not (this happens about twice a year when I manage to get to the hairdressers). Also, I feel on one hand sorry for the men who don’t get to express their individuality as much, but on the other hand they are lucky not to be subjected to the same level of vitriol as the women!
    x Alice
    #kcacols

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    1. Yes I do wonder if it’s more tedious or just easier for men with their lack of choice ! I know the odd one tries to break free every now and again with a pale blue suit or something

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very relevant and true! I love your closing line – very clever! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. I completely agree and what a good point about the men all dressing the same! You know the thing I hate the most about dressing in nice clothes? No f**king pockets. Dresses almost never have pockets (or, worse, they sometimes have decorative pockets that look like pockets but are actually fake!). So I’m expected to go around wearing tights or hold-ups that are either riding up my arse, cutting into my stomach or falling down around my knees. High heel shoes that disable me from running away or enjoying a dance or even standing at the bar. And no where to put my keys unless I carry around a bag all night. Meanwhile the men are in comfy trousers, flat shoes, and they even get extra pockets in their shirts and jackets! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dresses and skirts with pockets are my absolute favourite ! Love love love and I’ve all but given up on high heels , can’t do it without sticking my bum out , not a good look. Thanks for reading !

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post and very true X #kcacols

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  7. Those women in the spot light are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. You make some great points. No wonder us gals can be so insecure in our appearance, especially teens who are listening and taking note of those comments! Would be hilarious if all the women clubbed together and all wore the same to one of these events!! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha great idea !

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  8. I’ll admit I enjoy looking at the dresses and glitz and glamour but hate the dialogue, the judgement, the “who wore It best” shit. The media have an awful lot to answer for. Looove the end of this post. Black suit black suit black suit …. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  9. great post and spot on – media always tend to focus on the negatives and how someone looks – I like the idea of focusing on confidence or happiness instead. tbh though I take zero interest in red carpet analysis haha #KCACOLS

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  10. We need your segment and quick, so little equality in the image-based pressures women face in the public eye. Hoping things change and pronto. I’m an eternal optimist x

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  11. Really good post! I think you’re right in saying it’s the message these shows send out. What ever happened to if you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing?! #stayclassymama

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  12. I always remember when Jennifer Lawrence said that in Hollywood she was seen as a ‘fat actress’. I would hate to think what they would call me!

    #stayclassymamma

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  13. 2travellingtots · · Reply

    I rarely read ‘celeb’ type magazines any more they’re just too unrealistic! And you’re are so right, someone should write about how happy or confident or funny people those women are! #stayclassymama

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  14. madelinelittlejohns · · Reply

    The thing is, women can never win in these situations. In the eyes of these ‘experts’, they’ll always be too big, too skinny, too covered up, too exposed, etc etc etc. But imagine what they’d have to say if all the women did show up on the red carpet in the same black suit! x #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Frankly, i miss the days when you could count on Cher (or Bjork) to add some crazy to the red carpet – they all look pretty pedestrian to me these days….but why are women constantly pulled apart and commented on when they’re there for an AWARD??

    Liked by 1 person

  16. #Stayclassymama

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  17. Loved this. So true. We (and the celebs) can’t win, whatever we do. #StayClassyMama

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  18. It’s so easy for these stylists to sit there and criticise – most of the time I’m looking at them wondering what the hell they are wearing themselves! Women are under so much pressure from society to wear certain clothes, have perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect tan, etc. Really well written post, highlights the first world madness we live in! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since you’re in Ireland too – I can tell you it was on xpose !

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      1. Thought as much 😉

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  19. Very well said.
    Let’s start a petition for women to wear suits on the red carpet the same as men.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

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  20. I’ve never been a bit fan of red carpet scrutiny – I just don’t see the appeal! I certainly wouldnt like to think people were judging me in that way #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

  21. So I have never actually heard of that programme before, but oh my god. How horrendous to be the one subjected to it. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t flicked through trashy mags and read (and probably enjoyed) the what was she thinking wearing that segment, although having read this post I feel guilty about that now. I think though taking it on telly and publically shaming someone like that is a bridge too far. Thanks so much for linking up to #fortheloveofblog

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  22. Ugh even reading this made me feel sick to my stomach. I stay away from gossip/beauty magazines and celeb gossip/news because it never makes me feel good. I love your positive spin at the end, we should have a red carpet show that says how clever or gorgeous the women look, all women. Also there should be a men’s red carpet show if there is a women’s right? I guess critiquing suits is not as exciting. I don’t think I could ever be a celeb because I would lash out at these people tearing everyone down and look like a loon! Haha Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

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  23. I vote to put you in charge of the Red Carpet Interviews! Puh-lease! How refreshing it would be. Great post! M’wah! #stayclassymama

    Liked by 1 person

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