As post-Easter exams approach, Life and Style's Jess Howlett shares her tips on how to remain motivated over EasterWritten by Guest Author on 19th March 2018
Is Fashion an Effective Form of Protest?
Life&Style's Aimee Cashmore questions whether fashion is an effective way of protesting against current issues
Recently, female nominees and guests at the Baftas followed suit from the Golden Globes, by choosing to wear all black. The all black dress code was a way of showing support for Time's Up, the movement making a stand against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and across all work places. Members of the Time's Up initiative circulated an open letter urging Bafta guests to wear black, to show solidarity with sexual assault victims. As a result, the red carpet was overtaken by a sea of black dresses. Among the famous faces who wore black were Angelina Jolie, Naomi Harris, Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong’o and many other powerful women.
“Members of the Time's Up initiative circulated an open letter urging Bafta guests to wear black, to show solidarity with sexual assault victims
However, the all black dress code has reignited the same criticism that faced the Golden Globes, with people asking ‘what does wearing black actually do?’. However, this viewpoint overlooks the point of the Time's Up campaign: to enact fundamental change by starting an international conversation about sexual harassment, pay disparity and discrimination in the work place. It also undermines the ability of fashion to act as a powerful form of resistance. Clothes are an easily accessible form of protest and women throughout history have used fashion as an act of rebellion. During the suffrage movement, members wore purple which represented dignity, white which symbolised purity and green which represented hope. Today, these colours are still widely recognised as those of the suffragettes, showing how effective they were in promoting their cause. More recently, protestors wore the red robes and white bonnets of The Handmaid’s Tale, outside US senate building where anti-abortion legislation was being discussed. In a similar way, the choice to wear black at such events is much more than just a fashion statement, it is a form of active protest and a visual representation of solidarity.
“What better way to start a dialogue about inequality and harassment than by having some of the most famous female celebrities amplifying these issues on the red carpet?
The red carpet has always been an arena where women are judged primarily on their appearance. However, by wearing black the red-carpet talk moved away from the degrading ‘who are you wearing’ comments to talking about sexual abuse and the wage gap. For those who are not already aware of the Time's Up campaign, people were left wondering, why are women wearing black or holding white roses, what is their motivation? This, in turn, spreads the message of Time's Up and gets people thinking about such important issues. This demonstrates how fashion can be used as a credible platform for protest. After all, what better way to start a dialogue about inequality and harassment than by having some of the most famous female celebrities amplifying these issues on the red carpet? Without so many women sporting black dresses, this would not have been possible.
Can wearing all black alone to such events enact fundamental change? The simple answer, no. However, what it does do, is get the ball rolling by communicating these issues on an international stage. Obviously, the black dress code initiative needs to be combined with more practical and legislative action, which the movement is doing by working to improve laws, employment agreements and corporate policies. The sad reality is that women shouldn’t have to wear black to send a message that their bodies are off limits. However, by doing so, women stand together against sexual harassment and inequality, something which can be translated across all work places and not just in the entertainment industry.