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.
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:
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.
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!