We Are More Than Our Dresses

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Over a year ago, Jennifer Siebel Newson, founder of The Representation Project, launched the campaign Ask Her More. This campaign draws attention to the fact that female celebrities are asked far more questions about their fashion choices rather than the acting projects they completed that year compared to male celebrities, where fashion is an afterthought. Reese Witherspoon took to Instagram before The Oscars to promote the #AskHerMore campaign. Witherspoon posted:

 “This movement #AskHerMore. Have you heard of it? It's meant to inspire reporters to ask creative questions on the red carpet. I love the Oscars and fashion like many of you and am excited to share #WhoAmIWearing later tonight (not yet!!) But I'd also love to answer some of these questions....And hear your suggestions?! (Share them below!) There are so many amazing, talented nominees this year..! Let's hear their stories! Spread the word. #AskHerMore #Oscars #Countdown”

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This movement is striving to get reporters to focus more on the artistic work these actresses have accomplished instead of just asking questions like what dress they are wearing, what diet they are currently on, how did they get into shape for the role, or how long it took them to get ready that evening. This year the 87th Annual Academy Awards had 44 talented female nominees that we should be focusing the conversation on what they have achieved. Actress Lena Dunham took to twitter and remarked, “Ask her about the causes she supports, not her support garments #Oscars #AskHerMore.”

Founder Jennifer Siebel Newson told The Hollywood Reporter, “Imagine a world where celebrities were championing their causes on the red carpet. Can you imagine the impact? Their messages would trickle down as inspiration for others to get involved in causes. There's so much opportunity here for the media to right the wrongs that it has been perpetuating by limiting women to [be defined by] their beauty and sexuality." 

I have to applaud the female celebrities who are demanding better quality questions from reporters on the red carpet. It’s about timethese sexist questions need to go! For instance, at the Hollywood Film Awards, actress Keira Knightley was asked how she balances her career and personal life. Her response was, “Are you going to ask all the men that tonight?” Jennifer Garner also spoke out about being consistently asked about how she balances work and family, while her husband Ben Affleck went to the same event and has never been asked that question, even though they share the same family. She responded to a reporter by saying, “Isn’t it time to kind of change that conversation?”

My all-time favorite example of a celebrity calling out against sexism was when Cate Blanchett midway through her interview on the red carpet bent down to scold the cameraman in charge of E’s Glam Cam who was panning over her body by asking him “Do you do this to the guys?”

In recent years, the “mani-cam” has received a lot of controversy on the red carpet. Good thing they decided to do away with it this Oscars season. The mani-cam was designed to show off female celebrities’ manicures and their hand jewelry. But the whole thing is quite ridiculous that even fellow actresses Jennifer Aniston, Julianne Moore and Reese Witherspoon have all refused to put their hands in E!’s famous mani-cam. Not to mention, last year at the Golden Globes Elizabeth Moss flicked the mani-cam off twice.

I’m not saying fashion shouldn’t play a role on the red carpet. I enjoy seeing what each celebrity is wearing. All I’m advocating is that the entire conversation should not center on one’s appearance. The main purpose of award shows is to honor and highlight the past year’s artistic achievements when it comes to film and television. So why is it that there is a greater discrepancy between the content being asked to male actors compared to female actresses? Collegiettes, now is the time to stand up and confront sexism in our daily lives. Let’s use these celebrities as an example!