Red Carpet Rumble: Sarah Millican’s Brilliant Response To Online Trolls

By Kitty | May 20 2014 | 28 Comments

Comedian Sarah Millican wrote a fantastic article for the Radio Times last week, in which she described her night at last year’s BAFTAs. Her show was nominated for an award, so naturally she was excited about the evening and the build-up to it.


Photo via

My friend and I danced into John Lewis knowing that a) they have lots of mini shops in there, and b) I can fit it into most of them. Fancy expensive designer shops are out for me as I’m a size 18, sometimes 20, and I therefore do not count as a woman to them.

She didn’t win in her category but had a wonderful night nonetheless, got to present an award, had a lovely dinner and met Matt LeBlanc. But on her way home, she checked her phone and in amongst the supportive texts from friends and family was a barrage of comments tearing her appearance apart on Twitter.

It was like a pin to my excitable red balloon. Literally thousands of messages from people criticising my appearance. I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) was destroyed by the masses. I looked like a nana, my dress was disgusting, was it made out of curtains, why was I wearing black shoes with it. I cried. I cried in the car.

There were some nice messages from fans in amongst all the nastiness, but as is the way with these things, if you get ten nice comments and one mean one, that one negative remark can be like a little black cartoon cloud over your happiness. Her sadness soon turned to anger though, and quite rightly so.

Why does it matter so much what I was wearing? Why did no one ask my husband where he got his suit from? I felt wonderful in that dress. And surely that’s all that counts. I made a decision the following day that should I ever be invited to attend the Baftas again, I will wear the same dress. To make the point that it doesn’t matter what I wear; that’s not what I’m being judged on. With the added fun of answering the red-carpet question, “Where did you get your dress?” with “Oh, it’s just last year’s, pet”.

It’s impossible not to hear that last line in her voice, isn’t it?

And it does seem like part of being a famous woman these days is having to get every red carpet event spot on or risk the fiery wrath of the media and narky Twitter users, regardless of your talent or abilities. Famous men just have to throw on a suit that nothing’s been spilled on and the job’s done.

Oscar nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe was also pilloried back in January for the dress she wore to the Golden Globes. Her response was equally brilliant, albeit more succinct:


Image via Twitter

It seems like there’s a bit of a rebellion starting to brew when it comes to the ridiculousness of the red carpet. At this year’s Screen Actor’s Guild awards, Cate Blanchett called out the E! cameraman for the sweeping head to toe shot of her dress, crouching down and pointedly asking “Do you do that to the guys?”

And Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss demonstrated exactly what she thought of the mani-cam feature that had become part of a red carpet earlier this year, when she brazenly and hilariously gave it the finger, much to Giuliana Rancic’s horror.


Images via

I’m absolutely loving all these little rebellions and responses to women being judged for their appearance over their talent and the more they fight back, the better I say.

It can be a fine line to walk. The majority of us like to look at the fashion and style from red carpets and some dresses we like, some we don’t. But do you think red carpet commentary can be too harsh at times? And what do you think of Sarah’s response to the online reaction?

Let’s discuss in the comments!

Fashion, Celebrity, Life, Celebrity Watch, Feminism , , , , , , , ,

28 Replies to "Red Carpet Rumble: Sarah Millican’s Brilliant Response To Online Trolls"

  • mwah says:

    A real rebellion would be to turn up in a paper jumpsuit or skip the red carpet altogether. I’m with Joan Rivers on this, I want to see movie stars looking like movie stars.

    • kit10indub says:

      Sarah Millican is not a movie star. Joan Rivers shtick is at least intended to be funny, not directly vicious. Movie stars depend on their looks so much to get into the film industry and continue to work into so it appears to be fair game to criticize how they look on red carpets, especially when they spend so much time and money in perfecting and maintaining their appearance. Their job, future earning power and possible awards depend on that image so much.
      However, Millican’s point is that no-one mentioned her achievements, that she was nominated for an award for her work and, most importantly what the hell did it matter what she was wearing. Women’s looks and behaviour is up for criticism by all parts of society but especially by other women. For the most part the effect is damaging and negative but what’s most destructive is how is divides women and pitches them against each other in a demeaning battle of words over a flippin’ dress!

      • mwah says:

        Oh no, I completely agree with Sarah Millicans’ point but Cate and Elisabeth aren’t being 100% sincere in their objections in my opinion.

      • red*razors says:

        whereas i think they’re right – they are actresses and are hired to act. they are not models, whose entire job is their face and body. i don’t think they’re dissing the interest in what they’re wearing, it’s the detailed scrutiny which they have an issue with. men seem to get “he scrubbed up well”. women have to put up with “god she looks fat in that”.

  • Hellojed says:

    I was talking to a friend about this and we were saying it’s such a strange convention – you get nominated for an award, then at the ceremony you run the gauntlet of press and then you’re taken apart afterwards, all for what you are wearing rather than for what you were nominated for in the first place.

    On the other hand, I know a lot of celebrities are dressed by stylists and designers, and the red carpet for them means publicity for them and the designer – I guess then it is fair game to comment on what they are wearing?

    But in Sarah Millican’s case, she was walking into an event wearing a dress that she’d bought herself. It shouldn’t have even been an issue.

  • polkadotty says:

    She’s my hero!

  • Joanna says:

    She wore the dress to her show on Sunday night while the BAFTA’s were on. I think that if she had an army of stylists and loads of money I’m sure that there would still have been mean comments. I’m glad that she got the dress in a high street shop if Kate can do it why can’t she!

  • Banjaxed says:

    I looked up her dress after the talk yesterday about it, and I think it’s lovely on her. It’s not my cup of tea, but it seems to suit her personality. I feel a bit guilty because I did post a rather mean comment yesterday about Laura Whitmore showing her nipples, but in my defense, she did! Maybe I should listen to what my mother always said: “If you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

  • le smurf says:

    I think everyone should take note of Sarah Millicans article….It’s actually not nice to poke fun at the “worst dressed” a la the article that appeared yesterday on this site re Best Dressed and Worst Dressed…. After all, these women are human and I’m quite sure none of them thought that their dresses/shoes/makeup/accessories were anything but lovely when they were getting ready for that big occasion – it’s not fair really for anyone to judge or laugh.

    Dawn O’ Porter wrote an article for Glamour regarding the same sort of bullsh1t comments on her appearance on Jimmy Carrs show…

    I should point out that I have been known to laugh at Claudia Winklemans eyeliner or lady Gaga’s taste in clothes (in general) but these 2 articles have really made me think about any future laughing – – Just my tuppence.

  • OtherMary says:

    I want to see more people not give a feck and wear whatever the hell they want on the red carpet with confidence. I also want a hot, dry summer :P

    • Kitty says:

      I agree, OtherMary. I love it when people do something different on the red carpet. There’s only so many floor length ball gowns I can look at before I’m bored to tears!

      Also seconded on the hot summer. :)

  • Rach says:

    I am really torn on this one. I do think there is a difference commenting on a general blog and tweeting someone directly. And it’s never nice to hear someone got upset. And I get her point that she isn’t a model etc.

    On the other hand, I can’t get away from the fact that she is in the public eye, she choose to do a TV show and like it or not, this is the downside. Every job has a downside. I am sure she received a million and one upsides for having a TV show on BBC, so I kinda think you need to take the good with the bad. I am not saying it’s right but I think it’s life and if want to be in TV, that’s just part of it. If you don’t want to do the red carpet, you don’t have to. She could’ve just walked in and not posed for pictures. I don’t mean to sound heartless but again, I think if you sign up to the game, you gotta play it. You can’t say, I have no interest in shoes and so wore, let’s be honest, pretty ugly shoes and then complain when people comment on it. Either you don’t care or you do.

    • Senora Espana says:

      Rach I completely agree, I would never ever directly target somebody to tell them they look often, but I might post an odd comment here and there about what I liked and what I didn’t like.
      I would also like to point out that here on beaut they singled out Martin Freeman – a man – shock horror! So there is some equal opportunity judging going on.

    • Sherlock says:

      The point that “You’ve got to take the good with the bad” gets thrown out whenever this kind of issue is brought up. And it’s a good point. You do have to accept the bad points of any job or situation. And when the good points are really, really good, then maybe the bad points are going to be really, really bad.

      However, what I take from all this red carpet rebellion is the question “Why is THIS the bad part?” Why are we tacitly accepting that you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth and the rough is going to be being constantly judged on your appearance in the most openly insulting ways, ladies? Why isn’t the bad part having to work really long hours, be constantly creative, having minimal job security, being at the whim of public popularity for your salary. That’s pretty rough stuff on it’s own. Can we maybe not be so overtly judgey of females (and males) in the public eye cos it’s the right thing to do and not justify ourselves by deciding that it must be their bad karma and we are merely resetting the balance.

    • nohandbags says:

      Nah, Millican is talking about the game that no woman signs up for and no woman can opt out of.

      She thought she could make an effort, dress up for the award show, and anyone who even cared would only say “Nice to see Millican dressed up for a change”. She thought she was just like a man, basically. She didn’t expect to get a zillion nasty tweets, the same way some male comedian who dresses up for an award show wouldn’t get nasty tweets.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    On one hand I think that these people put themselves in the media’s eye & therefore they know they’re going to get judged but on the other hand there’s a way & a means & there’s no need to be that friggin harsh on anyone.
    I’m not going to lie & say I never think “god she looks crap (or he sometimes – Pharrell is on my list)” but it usually based on the dress/outfit just not suiting the person well & would be the same if they were famous or not.
    I don’t get the problem with the mani-cam. Lots of the women have gotten fancy nails done for the event so why not let people see them. I’ve seen them have guys do it too where they’ve noticed how well maintained their hands are.
    As for Sarah Millican – I honestly didn’t think the dress looked great on her when I saw the pics of it from last year. Now nothing that would warrant the type of comments she got. Then I saw the pic of her wearing it this year and think it might have been down to the way she wore her hair & how it just didn’t show her at her best. Coz she looked lovely in the photo she tweeted this year. That said it wasn’t a case of “dear god the world is going to burn because of what she’s wearing”. At the end of the day – it’s a dress not the first sign of the apocalypse.

  • Anez says:

    Fashion commentary and red carpet commentary in particular has become far too harsh. It’s gone beyond the realm of legitimate critique (which is valid; these events are as much about style choices as anything else, otherwise designers wouldn’t be falling over themselves to kit people out in their clothing) and into public shaming and cruel mockery.

    I choose to keep my opinions to myself about which outfits I think look especially dreadful, but obviously those employed to critique fashion can’t do this. That said, I think some commentators have learned that big cruelty gets big laughs, and they are able to make a name from it. I think that’s why these online comments have started to go too far, as well, and why people feel all right about directly messaging the person in question to tell them they look a state: “They’re going to read about it in tomorrow’s paper, so why not? If these celebrity celebrity-judgers get a cheap laugh or a fast buck out of mocking people, why shouldn’t I?”

    I find the entire thing really saddening, to be honest. There is no need to be so cruel, and the sheer joy some people seem to take from it is troubling.

    • Beth TV says:

      In agreement, Anez. The sort of comments Sarah was getting were less about what she wore and more about cheap slagging by luvvie darling heads or tabloid media watchers. FFS, her dress is gorgeous and she is a strikingly good looking woman who does what she does very well. I can’t see one thing wrong with her outfit other than it’s breaking the fashion rules which Hello magazine, TV3 Expose or E! subscribe to.

      • Anez says:

        (In reply to Beth; not sure this is going to go where it’s supposed to!)

        Being honest, I don’t personally like the dress, but that is completely irrelevant. Why should she or anyone else dress to what I like? That’s my job, nobody else’s. She said that she liked it, and that’s the opinion that should matter most– but no-one could fault her for getting upset when people go to such lengths to force their negative opinions about it upon her.

        It’s a lot easier to say “I’ll dress for myself, and nobody else” (which is how we should all feel) when other people are polite enough not to force their unsolicited opinions on you in the cruelest and most tactless manner possible. I don’t condone dishonesty, and if someone asks me how they look, I will tell them– but a) I’ll wait to be asked, and b) I won’t try to make them cry when I’m telling them.

        People giving out these negative comments love to say things like “Maybe she doesn’t know how awful she looks– someone should tell her”, but the truth is, if you haven’t been asked, that person probably isn’t you… And if you really MUST feel obligated to force your unwanted opinion on somebody, the least you could do is to not be as nasty as possible in doing it.

        There’s nothing wrong with a fashion critic on a TV program saying “I don’t think so-and-so’s dress was a good choice: the cut isn’t flattering, and the colours clash with their complexion” or whatever, because that’s their job. There are a lot of people who want very badly to conform to fashion/style norms, and there’s no harm in letting people know what’s considered “good style practice” so that they can make informed choices in their own purchasing decisions.

        I do have a problem with someone getting paid to be vicious and insulting and saying things like “She looks like she’s wearing a paper bag– maybe she should have worn a dress and put the paper bag over her face, instead.” That doesn’t help anyone, and it makes the person in question feel like shit. Why would someone want to do that to somebody they don’t know and have no grudge against? I just can’t understand it.

        As you said, it’s all about being hateful to anyone who dares to step outside the realm of what’s considered acceptable –trying to shame them into conforming– and in this day and age it just seems backwards and unnecessary.

  • loulouk says:

    I am not a fan of sarah millican but nobody deserves to be made feel shite on what was obviously a very special night for her. I’m not above looking at celeb photos and saying ‘look at the state of her/him’ (most of these comments I do make about Madonna) but when it gets personal it makes me feel a bit sick, its only a dress/outfit at the end of the day.
    BTW Giuliana Rancics reaction to the lady flipping the bird at mani-cam is priceless :)

  • pinkpout says:

    I think if I was ever to grace a red carpet I would either go wrapped in a load of black bags as aren’t people always quoting ah sure she could wear a black bag that one. Or I would buy something from a charity shop to show support for all our wonderful charity shops nationwide. Sparkly over priced frocks are common place at these events something alternative would be nice

  • Rua says:

    The sad truth is that it’s us women critiquing women. And in no way is this limited to the red carpet. We all know it happens at every wedding, debs, black tie ball, races, whatever. I’m holding my hand up here. I do comment on things I don’t like (and do like!) but there’s a vast difference in commenting on the fashion and the person. I would NEVER bring a persons weight/skin type/hair colour/height etc. into it. It’s cruelty and akin to Mean Girls and the classroom bitchiness that I think we can all remember. It’s ok to discuss and critique fashion it’s not ok to make it personal.

  • Liselle says:

    There’s a lot that makes me angry about this story but what pisses me off most(right now that is…it’s been changing from minute to minute)is all the cries of “But sure what does she expect? It’s all part of the job!” It is only part of the job because the media and the public have decided that a woman should be judged first and foremost on her appearance, then her relationship to the men in her life(if applicable),and only then will they pay attention to her actual accomplishments. Be she a comedian, a scientist or a politician, any woman whose job involves being “in the public” eye will have her appearance criticised far more harshly than her male counterparts, and it’s total and utter bullshit!

  • Mcbab says:

    I think that it is usually the case that a woman who is happy and comfortable with her choice of dress and isn’t paranoid about what others think about it and also isn’t obsessed with her looks is the woman who has the most fun. She’s would be the one I would want to hang out with at a party. Not the one who is constantly checking herself in the mirror. People are entitled to their opinion but why do they feel the need to share it via social media, can’t they just keep it to themselves.

  • Mitzi says:

    Have you seen the press comments covering first appearance of Tara Erraught in a major role? She really is a rising star, I have heard her voice described as magical, but all the papers had to say in the first line was that she was “stocky”, ” dumpy”, and “unsightly”. And this not in Daily Mail mind, but in Times, Independent and The Guardian! As if all the famous opera singers are thin as matches, and she is the only one who is different. Also interesting that mostly English papers had comments like this, but not the German ones…

  • Mary C says:

    I think Sarah Millican is wonderful. Let’s face it, deep down, we are all envious of people who achieve their (or more importantly) OUR dreams. We have a choice – we either get inspired or we allow our dreams to become regrets and wallow in a cesspool of self loathing, resentment and jealousy. That’s when we start to go for the jugular …she’s too fat, too thin, ugly, stupid, slut etc. It’s the whole WHY HER AND NOT ME thing.

    I remember being on an Aer Lingus flight once and the co-pilot was a woman. It was about 15 years ago, so quite an unusual thing. The landing was very bumpy. When we were getting off the flight, a female passenger behind me said to her two male travel colleagues “It was probably yer woman who landed the plane!”. Ha Ha Ha! Women still have a long way to go! But personally, I think I will pursue the inspirational route – it’s much more fun. Go for it Sarah!

  • Aisling says:

    The Elizabeth Moss finger thing made me love her all the more!! <3 <3

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