Tonight our favorite actors and actresses arrived on the red carpet for the 87th annual Academy Awards. While the Oscars is first and foremost a night to celebrate artistic achievement, the red carpet is a time for the nation to admire the haute couture, glamorous gowns, dazzling jewelry, and even the manicures (thanks to “mani cams”) of the actresses. Meanwhile, male attire is “typically treated as a footnote.”
When it comes to red carpet fashion questions, many actresses including Reese Witherspoon, Lupita Nyong’o and Julianne Moore have encouraged the media to #AskHerMore this evening. Actresses showing their support for the Ask Her More campaign, created by the Representation Project, are urging reporters to focus more on women’s accomplishments and less on their appearances. #AskHerMore is about shifting the focus from style to substance. Rather than being asked “Who are you wearing?” actresses want quality and thoughtfulness in their questions.
Hours before the event, Witherspoon Instagramed some of her own question ideas:
“This is a movement to say that we’re more than just our dresses. It’s great; the dresses are beautiful; we love the artists that make all these clothes, but this is a group of women…[who] are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done.”
And this is my moment to say that Reese Witherspoon and I went to the same all-girls high school in Nashville called Harpeth Hall, which was founded to provide a quality educational opportunity for girls. We were taught to “Think Critically, Lead Confidently, and Live Honorably” both inside and outside of the classroom. But if I had to add one more phrase to my school motto it would be “Think Feminist.” I’m not saying that everyone who graduates from this school is a feminist, but it is definitely a school where issues such as gender equality are discussed in the classroom and the popular notion of the glass ceiling is shattered. I’d be lying if I said that after four years at this school I didn’t come out a little more feminist than when I got there. I’m left wondering if the same is true for Reese and if that has any impact on her desire to push against sexist red carpet questions.
*ADD moment—back to the purpose of this post*
Gender equality seems to be becoming a heated issue in the world of Hollywood. Remember Emma Watson’s He For She speech to the U.N.? And Cate Blanchett calling out E!’s red carpet crew for scanning her up and down at the SAG Awards last year?
And if you watched the Oscars tonight, you would have seen best supporting actress Oscar-winner, Patricia Arquette, use her acceptance speech to call for wage equality in America.
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
*Meryl Streep jumps out of her seat and cheers YAAAAS*
Side note: Sony’s Pictures hack and email leak revealed that American Hustle’s leading star, Jennifer Lawrence, was paid less than her male co-stars. Fair? Hardly. Especially for an Oscar-winning, Hollywood A-lister like Lawrence.
It can be argued that “Who are you wearing?” is not a sexist question. It is simply matter-of-fact. And while I appreciate and support the #AskHerMore campaign, I also watch the Oscars for the fashion—there should be room for both on the red carpet. Regardless, it is evident that Hollywood has a gender problem that runs deep. Actors are speaking up. It’s time for us to not only listen up, but also to make some changes towards a more equal tomorrow.