I have just watched the highlight show of the Chime for Change concert that happened at Twickenham on Saturday. When trying to find the full concert online I came across an article documenting the Twitter outrage that many of the performers outfits provoked. Many viewers thought the performers outfits didn’t fit with the female empowerment message of the concert.
Yes Jessie J, Rita Ora, even Queen Bey herself (and many of the other female performers) were wearing tight/ short/ sexy outfits. And? Surely the whole point of female empowerment is to focus on what women can DO not how they dress. The most common reply to this line of argument is “but by dressing like that they give the impression that to be successful you have to dress sexy and prance about in heels.” Or you could be both? I have never understood why people are scared to suggest that women can be successful AND sexy. The two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive. At least they aren’t for men. No one has ever accused George Clooney, or Benedict Cumberbatch, or even Justin Bieber (depending on your preferences) of being too sexy to be successful! So why are we so scared to admit that women can be both?
For me, feminism is about wanting equality for both sexes, plain and simple. This essentially means allowing women to do and be whatever they want, a privilege that men have always had. If Beyonce wants to remind everyone that she is not only an incredible singer and activist, but also sexy as hell, then all the more power to her! The very fact that people have been talking about what these women are wearing, rather than their talent, or the contribution they are making to a truly important cause, shows just how far women still have to go before we can truly be equal to men. Of course I’m not saying that women should be treated like sex objects, but I really don’t think that extremely successful pop-stars dressing in tight clothes at a benefit concert should be presented as all that is wrong with the place of women in today’s world. Being sexy isn’t a crime, and quite frankly these sorts of comments are part of the victim-blaming culture we are unfortunately still living in. Just because a women is dressed in a way that makes her feel good about herself doesn’t mean she should automatically be viewed as a sex object. That’s not the point of outfits like this. I’m pretty sure when I dress for a night out I’m not thinking “ooo what will make someone want to make crude comments/ grab my ass/ have sex with me?” I (and most probably ALL women) am thinking “what will make ME feel good about MYSELF?” And I reckon that is what Beyonce and all the other performers were thinking at the Chime for Change concert. The variety of outfits shows this: Mary J Blige wore a sequinned catsuit ; Florence Welch wore a flowing blue dress and cape; Haim’s Danielle wore grey jeans and a leather jacket. Each performer wore what made them feel their best, so that they could give the best show to raise money for a hugely important cause that they all support. And that is all their clothes represented.
Mary J Blige
What do you think? I think this is a really important debate to have, and I’d love for you to weigh in!