Actors will wear black outfits in solidarity to sexual misconduct victims
A few hours away from the Golden Globes, actresses have turned the usual attention to their outfits to their favours, making a statement from the hottest red carpet of the beginning of 2018.
Women have been asked to wear black at the first big event of the upcoming award season. This initiative is part of the Time’s Up movement, a project created by 330 women of the entertainment industry in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Those prominent women will champion others all over the world and provide less privileged victims of sexual assault and abuse with legal support through a $14 million (more than £10 million) legal defence fund.
And, as the right accessory will bring out a total black outfit, actress Reese Witherspoon asked costume designer Arianne Phillips to create a pin to go with their gowns. That’s how the Time’s Up minimalist pin was born, designed by Phillips and jewellery designer Michael Schmidt.
Similarly to other statements at award ceremonies, the decision to wear black was initially frowned upon as non-beneficial to the #MeToo movement.
One might ask how incredibly privileged people wearing incredibly expensive black outfits at an equally incredibly expensive ceremony will help victims.
Moreover, those going all black are still participating in the celebration of that same industry that has proved to be corrupted and sexist. It seems unlikely that a piece of fabric, no matter how beautifully crafted, might actually say something relevant about how to smash the patriarchy. But again, none of the ‘wild feminist’ shirts appears to do so either.
Hollywood is a place where a great emphasis is put on the way people look and dress. That is why making a statement through fashion sounds like playing according to its operating rules once again. At the same time, however, exploiting the long-standing obsession with women’s appearance to create a united front within the industry might end up subverting those very rules.
Besides, actresses have always been bombarded with questions about their look during interviews on the red carpet more than their male colleagues. It was – and somewhat still is – so systemic that the #AskHerMore hashtag was launched in 2014 by The Representation Project to invite journalists to ask actresses to disclose details on their next project instead of those of their beauty routine. Whether it worked or not, we’re about to find out. One thing is certain: everyone will be more than happy to being asked questions about their frocks this time around.
It is not new nor particularly revolutionary, but fashion has always had its ways to make a statement. Mary Quaint’s miniskirt in the 60s pioneered feminism and body acceptance. Activists have always sported slogans of all sorts on their t-shirts. So what is it that offends us, that people are using fashion to say something relevant to them or that these people are famous, beautiful actors we feel we can’t relate to?
If Harvey Weinstein taught us anything, it is that sexual assault does not make any distinction. Everyone regardless of their gender and social status can become a victim. This equates an Oscar-winning actor to any woman or man in any workplace everywhere experiencing sexual misconduct. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (the American Farmworker Women’s Alliance) recognised so when they showed support to Hollywood women for their bravery to speak up. And now Time’s Up is doing its bit in helping the less privileged and showing the world there is more to a dress than just a dress.
Wearing a black dress can express grief, but also solidarity, support and yes, hope. Times are changing. Actors accused of sexual misconduct are being replaced in completed projects, proving the entertainment industry has finally realised that believing the victims is more important than money. Or that films starring alleged sexual assaulters are likely to be boycotted. Either way, it’s working. Hopefully, everyone else will follow. And if a bunch of dark dresses will try and dim this award season’s shining gold for all the right reasons, then so be it.