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The Picture that Captures Everything Wrong With Hollywood’s Sexist Standards

Selena Gomez recently wore a sexy red ensemble promoting her new movie, Transylvania 2. Designed by Katie Ermilio, the silk two-piece set consisted of a bandeau top and a skirt with a thigh-high slit and oversized bow fastened to the waistline.

Her co-stars, Adam Sandler and Kevin James, on the other hand, showed up to the Cancun, Mexico photo call in sweatpants and shorts.  hollywood sexist 1

Besides the fact that the 22-year-old seemed to be uneasy flanked by two 40-something men, it appears that her red carpet ensemble left her feeling similarly uncomfortable. The former Disney star was photographed grasping at the dress’s wide seam, using her arms as skin shields. Perhaps it’s because she’s wildly overdressed, at least in comparison to Sandler and James.

But what if Gomez showed up to the event dressed in the same vein as her male counterparts? Unless the actress wore fancy short shorts that put her long legs on display, the fashion police would most likely ridicule Gomez for her too-casual outfit choice. But the young multi-hyphenate who’s been in the biz for over a decade knows the name of the game: look good, get your picture taken, make a best dressed list, get lots of press, rake in money.

There’s a double standard in Hollywood fashion, and this photo — men, looking as if they’ve rolled out of bed or come from the gym, with their female co-star putting effort (and hours of it) into her appearance — encapsulates it. Sure, Sandler’s got a reputation for being a slob, often throwing a middle finger up in the face of assumed dressing standards and having an apathetic attitude towards the bright lights big city culture, but that doesn’t discount him from the sexist issue at the heart of it all.

Part of the problem is how individuals devour, and professionals publish. Whenever someone wears something — good, bad, or ugly — it’s a headline, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, or any other. Best and worst dressed lists abound and the fashion industry breeds a culture that not only has readers coming back for more information, but one that also has audiences striving to emulate the ensembles their celebrity idols step out in.

Part of the reason why women put so much effort into cultivating manicured red carpet sartorial personas — like Gomez, for example — is that they get paid to do so. Oftentimes, designers pay celebrities and their stylists. “It’s prevalent across the board,“ Jessica Paster, who dresses Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Sandra Bullock, and Rachel McAdams, among many others, recently revealed on a panel at the Vulture Festival. “Jewelry people are paying, shoe people are paying, tampon companies are paying, everyone is paying!” She added, “It could be just paying the stylist and we get anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000. Or it’s paying the actress something between $100,000 and $250,000.”

So there’s an obvious perk to the excessive amount of time spent in a makeup chair and in dressing rooms with a personal stylist. But men’s fashion has never been as popular. The annual sales aren’t as large and endorsements are hard to come by. (Unlike Kylie Jenner, for example, who can promote something as inane as colored hair extensions for the cool price of a Malibu mansion) Kit Harrington for Jimmy Choo, Eddie Redmayne for Burberry, and David Beckham for H&M are a few examples (oddly, all Brits); but it’s not as if oxfords and tuxedos have the same market impact as a couture gown or a diamond necklace.

This past Awards Season, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money women can potentially receive, there was a revolt on the red carpet. Jennifer Aniston, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, and others refused to show off their nails for the mani cam—those awkward, box-like structures in which actresses are asked to parade their fingers to show off both jewels and manicures. Moore didn’t even tell reporters what designer she was wearing, letting the public relations representatives send out an email with the details instead. Cate Blanchett responded to E!’s mani cam request with, “Do you do that to the guys?”

This comes after Jennifer Garner famously said, “My husband and I do the same job…every single person who interviewed me asked me, “How do you balance work and family?” He said the only thing anyone asked him about were, “How were the boobs on that ‘Blurred Lines’ girl?”

But should fashion, an act of expression for so many, really be so politicized, and publicized, for that matter? Probably not. At the recent Cannes Film Festival, women were turned away from a premiere for not complying with the strict dress code that called for women to wear high heels. “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels,” Emily Blunt said. “That’s very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality.” To her point, women should be free to wear whatever they want, when they want, without external pressures that force them to conform to a specific archetype.


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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5 comments

  1. Oh…hw I concur!! And I blame E! for this…so what if sandra bullock wore that same gown during the premiere of blind side…so what if selena and miley are wearing the same gowns on diff occasions..omg…the list goes on..call me crazy..I have the feeling casting directors pay attention to these flimsy no-good reasons so as not to cast some people.i really do feel for them young stars and starlets.it wud suck for them..cos it seems like superficial things count more than skills.God bless blanchet, moore, streep and many more that arr trying to stump such nonsense. .

    • shakespeareanwalter

      These young starlets have to wade through the sexist bullshit in addition to proving their talent. It just seems like more of an overwhelming hurdle than what their male counterparts have to face.

  2. Thank God they are beginning to wake up, I’m so disappointed that it took them so long but at least – better late than never. I believe that female celebrities are their own worst enemies, they feel like they have something to prove so they allow themselves be objectified by media houses, fashion labels, fans, critics and the like. whatever happened to talent and hard work raking in money instead of wearing uncomfortable and slutty cloths that has no business leaving the runway. I can remember when Russell crowe weighed in on the idea that older women find it hard to work in Hollywood, he referenced actresses like Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren who are older actresses that are still enjoying a successful career because they built their career on talent and hard work.
    Adam Sandler and Kevin James could afford to wear that because they’re household names and they’ve come to believe that what they wear and how they present themselves won’t take away the fact that when they show up they deliver. whatever battle that women are fighting today and whatever extra we feel we have to put on just to be seen and highly regarded most times have to do with inner demons than outside expectations, plus the fact that the people in front are more than ready to conform to popular standards and expectations instead of being true to themselves and making it easier for those that are coming behind to stand their ground.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Aijay, I don’t quite believe it’s as easy as that. Yes, there are the Meryl Streep exceptions who have somehow managed to wade the politics of Hollywood on sheer talent. But I don’t think it’s easy as all that for them to simply take such a stand, especially in an industry as fiercely competitive as Hollywood.
      But you’re right though. At all times, even if you’re pandering to the public and media and fashion houses et al, it is best to find a way to be true to yourself.

    • The male celebrities generally have it easier than the females. These women are held up a shinier pedestal than the men, one so slippery that they have to be careful how they navigate, and one that keeps them in a fiercer glare of the public than the men. The writer of this piece is right. It’s an unfair status that is perpetuated by the media. They walk the red carpet and you ask them inane questions you’d not ask the men.

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