Is it 2016? I can’t tell. Why? Magazines like Flare Magazine and Elle Canada are still putting out embarrassingly antiquated trash articles like ‘Best and Worst Dressed’ Oscars lists. Really? Why not just stick with praising the ones you liked rather than shaming and bullying people whose dresses (and bodies) you feel like publicly critiquing? How can a magazine simultaneously publish articles on feminism, while also churning out this garbage, and think that no one will notice? You can do better.
We talk so much about modern womanhood, about gender, about anti-bullying, about focusing on a person’s talent and contributions rather than his/her appearance; we’ve heard the years and years of inane ‘what are you wearing?’ questions, posed almost exclusively to female athletes, actresses, celebs, and heard the, ‘wow, she really bounced back after all that baby-weight’ comments, and we’ve started (thank God) to notice that it’s not merely sexist to focus on a woman’s body in lieu of her talent (at an AWARDS show), it’s also just mean-spirited. And sometimes racist, classist, sizeist and… still mean-spirited.
There are very few other situations where a person’s unsolicited, unwelcome comments about a person’s appearance wouldn’t be called out. More on that later.
No woman at the Oscars picked (or had a stylist pick) her dress and thought, ‘Fuck it, I look like crap, but this will do.’
It isn’t even an excuse to say, ‘but Heidi Klum looked radiant, despite an iffy choice on that dress’. If we think she looked great… great. Why veer into the salacious territory of commenting on the things we don’t like about someone when it is NOT relevant to the event.
You wouldn’t walk up to your neighbour to compliment her on her beautiful landscaping and casually toss in, ‘but you sure do have a fat ass’.
You wouldn’t go to a high school graduation and watch an accomplished young woman cross the stage to give her valedictory address and say, ‘too bad she has teen acne, how will she ever succeed with only her brains and winning personality?’
You would never go to someone’s wedding, to celebrate their love, and say, ‘everyone looked so amazing and gave touching speeches as a testament to your beautiful relationship… except your ugly cousin, whose ill-fitting dress was a shade that no red-head should wear.
Or worse, congrats on your wedding, engagement, birth of your child, promotion… shame about ‘your ugly spouse, your tacky ring, old-man-wrinkled raisin-baby, ugly footwear.’ We just wouldn’t.
But it’s commonplace to devote entire magazine spreads and tv spots to publicly judging things that are beside the point. And I don’t want to hear the ‘well, as celebrities part of their job is to be judged.’
Yes, that is a side-effect of being a celebrity. But no one invites public bashing. Nor is it okay. That’s, on some level, like saying that being a woman invites sexual harassment. Yes, it happens. But it isn’t okay. Something being common-place doesn’t make it right, or progressive.
Just ask Rebecca Black’s mother, who had to watch her teen daughter’s ‘haters’ post comments like, ‘You should kill yourself,’ because she had the nerve to post a video of herself singing (like everyone was watching). And some people didn’t like it. And the adults in her life supported her ambition. And the world replied. Sadly, I heard actual teens defend her crucifixion, saying that ‘she should have known that if she posted something online, people would tear her apart.’ This ‘she brought it on herself’ kind of attitude is so regressive and … frankly, terrifying. If media permits, and encourages, us to eschew kindness and courtesy (in favour of the kind of brutal honesty that get someone fired or slapped in the real world), is it any wonder that we are dealing more than ever with online bullying and a crisis of self-esteem. Fashion has become a gladiator sport, and the contenders are seemingly willing participants with no way out of this gauntlet.
When it comes to the Oscars, people spend huge amounts and hire experts to make sure their look will get them the right kind of attention: the kind where people either leave them alone, or give them a pat on the back for having escaped the vicious, catty humiliation of being targeted by ‘style watchers’ for daring to wear something that didn’t strike the right note with a particular person. Are we okay with a best-case-scenario where someone feels lucky to be praised for picking the right dress and shoes and favourably showcasing their body… when the alternative is being torn to shreds?
Nowhere else would this be acceptable.
So to those magazines, I’ll respond:
“Unsubscribe”… seriously. #shameonFlareMagazine #growupElleCanada #givemesomefashionmediawithoutthebullyingandbs Flare Magazine ELLE Canada
P.S. Kerry Washington, you make me want to be strong and fragile and badass and professional and sexy and clever. And yes, I like your outfits, but that’s beside the point.