Thursday 22 March 2018

The new red carpet question: what are you earning?

Angela Scanlon
Angela Scanlon

Angela Scanlon

Last Sunday, I stayed up until 1am watching Ryan Seacrest and co on E! looking bored at the Oscars. I nodded off before I actually saw anyone I was interested in. But I woke to find that although Eddie Redmayne, his adorable freckles and his outstanding performance as Stephen Hawking swooped gold (I had money on him), this was a night for the woman.

It started with Reese Witherspoon, nominated for best actress, tweeting her support of the #AskHerMore campaign, which is designed to discourage the now-traditional question "Who are you wearing" and persuade reporters to ask women about their creative endeavours. I wanted to high-five her for her attempt to change things for the better… But I then Googled images of her to see who she was wearing. It was Tom Ford in case you're curious (she later tweeted a snap).

Initially, I felt I had let her down for caring about the designer who gave her a dress to wear, for free.But, surely, that's anti-feminist too? I felt like I was judging her for somehow being hypocritical, and she was judging me and others who may have found themselves marvelling at her jewels, as if the interest in her dress somehow takes away from her obvious talent. Surely, it shouldn't be either/or? Surely, the ability to indulge in beautiful things is one of the perks of being a woman, so why would be dismiss that? We shouldn't, but then I don't think that's what Reese was hoping for either. By tweeting the picture and crediting the relevant designers it meant people could move on from the fluffy chat about her outfit to talk about her work, the work she incidentally gets paid less for, than her male counterparts.

Which is where Patricia Arquette comes in. She's my new hero. Trotting up to the red carpet with her whole family in tow, basking in the moment, but also laser focused about her mission. She has been in this business all her life - her Oscar-winning role in Boyhood took 12 years to make - this was her moment and she did not intend to waste it flashing her fingers in a mani-cam (this, is a tiny red carpet for your hands designed to show off your nail polish and jewels). She wrapped her acceptance speech by saying this: "To every woman who gave birth. To every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America."

Meryl Streep whooped and hollered, Jennifer Lopez cheered and screamed. Suddenly, it didn't matter what any of them were wearing, they were women who, regardless of their perceived successes, feel the same level of injustice and are faced with the same challenges. Refusing to talk about a dress may seem a little silly, but it's a big statement and a small step in the right direction.

Ring in the new accessories trend

Earrings are making a comeback. Hang on, I'm not talking giant bejwelled costume pieces a la Pat Butcher, but 1990s-style studs and rings worn in multiples. Layered up and clustered together, it feels rebellious and bold. I'm into it...

Follow Angela on Twitter and Instagram @angelascanlon

Irish Independent

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