Golden Globes and The Oscars: How Did Fashion Work as a Means to Stand Up Against Sexual Harassment this Red Carpet Season?

The beginning of the year, culminating with the Oscars on March 4, is the time for Hollywood’s red carpet events, and the infamous 'best dressed' and 'worst dressed' lists. However, the most prevailing (and perhaps the most trivial) question at the red carpet, “So, who are you wearing tonight?”, has been met with a lot of cynicism lately by the most prominent women of the film industry, as well as feminist activists. At this year's Golden Globes and Oscars, the #MeToo movement has taken over: Hollywood stars are proudly fighting back to challenge the long-silenced sexual harassment cases within the entertainment industry.

Words: Aleksandra Medina

Is it right that the only question an interviewer asks the actress is related to what and who she is wearing? The 'worst dressed' and 'best dressed' lists are starting to leave a bad taste in our mouths. We know more about the dresses they were given than their opinions on the movies they worked on.  

But this year, a new activism wave has taken over. Fashion finally got the right type of attention. The women of Hollywood used fashion as their tool for self-expression to start a revolution. Because that’s what fashion is – it is your way to show your personality, beliefs and values to the rest of the world.

Even though the leaders of the #TimesUp movement confirmed that they don’t expect attendees to repeat their Golden Globes stunt at the upcoming Oscars, they would appreciate if the attendees chose to wear the iconic #TimesUp pin.

But let’s talk more about this year’s Golden Globes and the all-black stunt. In the wake of sexual harassment accusations storming over America’s movie industry, prominent female figures all across the industry started the Time’s Up movement.  The #TimesUp movement is a continuation of the #MeToo movement, raising awareness of the prominence of sexual harassment, and standing up with all the sexual harassment and abuse victims. These women are standing up against the patriarchy and calling for appropriate charges to be sentenced to the perpetrators.

The women invited the Golden Globes attendees to wear all black to the event to show their support to the movement. The choice of black raised some concerns that it might create a too much of a ‘funeral’ feeling, however, the event turned out to be heartwarmingly and elegantly empowering. The central point of attention was fashion, when, at the same time, fashion had never been less important at a red-carpet event. The all-black dress code simultaneously drew attention to the dresses, while emphasising the completely political reason for the choice. Somehow, it seemed completely out of place to bother an actress with the outdated question of “Who are you wearing?”, when all of this clearly was a political statement. Everyone’s attention was directed towards the powerful speeches, the strong women and the men supporting them. And Oprah Winfrey.

"The central point of attention was fashion, when, at the same time, fashion had never been less important at a red-carpet event." 

Isn’t this what fashion should really be all about? It is a means to an end. It is not the final and only question to ask a woman. It is a personal powerful tool. A tool to start a revolution. Because in a world where everyone has only a couple of seconds to make their first impression, what you wear really matters. Make it count.

Of course, it’s definitely not only about making great first impressions. Now more than ever, fashion is political, whatever you choose to convey with what you wear. Thankfully, fashion as a tool to provoke some dialogue or social movement is coming back. Each decade can be coined with its most iconic it look. Maybe this decade will be seen as the political decade. There’s so much to fight for, and sometimes being subtle in your dress code can bring a much greater impact than forcing your opinion on others or spamming everyone’s Facebook feed. Women wearing pantsuits to show their support for Hillary Clinton, spoke louder than any words or angry Facebook posts could. Fashion is a part of you, a part of your personality. And it speaks volumes.

Choosing to wear black at Golden Globes was these women’s way of speaking up and fighting against the long-silenced cases of sexual harassment within the entertainment industries. Choosing to wear ethical clothing is someone else’s way of standing up against the inhumane clothing manufacturing industry. Choosing to wear a statement tee can be someone else’s way of showing solidarity with the refugees. Realise the power of what you wear. Finally, we have a powerful and perhaps one of the greatest examples from, historically, one of the most superficial industries in the world.