There are certain questions many of us mere plebs will never have to answer that the stars of the moment are bombarded with constantly. I’m sure most of us will go through life never having to hear the phrase “Who are you wearing” thrown our way. It’s part of the celeb deal: Major brands and designers loan out the most beautiful and expensive dresses to clients or the big nominees of awards season (many actors have exclusive deals with companies, which is why you always see Jennifer Lawrence in Dior), they show them off at whatever ceremony or premiere they’re heading to, and at some point, Ryan Seacrest or whoever Inside Edition have picked off the street will complete the business deal and allow them to mention the brand and give it the kind of promotion money can’t buy. It’s simple, if kind of mundane, and hey, I’d totally get in on that deal given the chance (Victoria Beckhman, have your people call my people).
It’s also kind of a drag for many women, who can go through dozens of red carpets in a year and seldom be asked about more than the clothes on their back. It can also get super degrading. Remember the time Scarlett Johansson was literally groped on her breast by Isaac Mizrahi? Or Cate Blanchett calling out E! News for their weirdly leering camera lick up her body, wherein she asked ‘Do you do that to the guys?’ Or Giuliana Rancic, possibly the most discomfiting presence in red carpet coverage since Joan Rivers lost all self-awareness, asking Padma Lakshmi how she looks so good in her forties? A lot of this is also just an extension of how women in the public eye are digested by the media: Female Olympians whose victories and athletic skills are seen as less important when compared to how they look; politicians who can save the literal world but still be picked apart for the wrong pantsuit choice; award winning actresses and directors having their work ignored because someone simply has to ask how they balance it all as mothers, as if any father in the industry has ever been asked that.
So here’s the thing: No, I don’t think it’s sexist to ask about clothes on the red carpet - like I said above, it’s kind of the whole point of these dog and pony shows, and the celebs know it - but it shouldn’t be the only thing they get asked about, and it shouldn’t be an excuse to be gawked at or groped by vultures or turned into a pretty object to be picked apart on Fashion Police two days later. That was the point of the #AskHerMore movement - yes, ask about the clothes but come on, these are interesting people and have lots to discuss in their careers and achievements, so maybe talk about that too?
All of this makes the current awards season tough enough, but in the shadow of the Harvey Weinstein fallout and general exodus of abusive men in the industry? How do you even ask women about their pretty shoes in those circumstances? According to the Hollywood Reporter, ‘actresses, including nominees and presenters, are planning to wear black to protest gender inequality and to acknowledge the flood of sexual abuse allegations that have rocked Hollywood beginning with Harvey Weinstein.’ It’s a natural extension of wearing a charity ribbon or pin, as many did this year at the Oscars in support of various human rights campaigns like the ACLU. Given what’s happened in the past few months - along with continuing gender inequality in film and TV, as further evidenced by five dudes filling out the Best Director slots in a year where Greta Gerwig, Dee Rees, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow, Angela Robinson and Angelina Jolie all could have been worthy nominees - something as simple as a fashion trend can really get a message across. If nothing else, it may stop Giuliana Rancic from spewing her usual word vomit. Perhaps we can put a ban on Seacrest in place while we’re at it? It would just benefit us all.