It’s the all too familiar question of the Hollywood award season: “Who are you wearing?” Maybe it seems harmless—just a part of the red carpet experience—but when it’s followed by “when did you know this dress was the one?” and “how long did you take to get ready?” this mundane little question develops a nasty, oppressive edge. For too long red carpet interviews have diminished the successes of women and perpetuated one-dimensional gender stereotypes. The point of the Oscars is to celebrate achievements in filmmaking, but when a woman is reduced to her appearance during an interview, awkwardly coerced into sticking her hand under a camera and posing on a revolving pedestal, her achievements are clouded. This year, enough was enough. People demanded that reporters #AskHerMore.
The Representation Project, an organization that uses film to challenge stereotypes and inspire all people to their full potential, began the #AskHerMore campaign last year for the Oscars. The concept is simple: ask her about more than what she’s wearing. Focus on why she’s on this red carpet in the first place—her accomplishments in storytelling as an actress, writer, director, musician, etc. Ask her about her next project. Ask her about her goals. Ask her what you just asked her male colleague.
The movement dominated Twitter on Oscar night, with people using the hashtag to tweet at reporters and submit their own questions for actresses. Reese Witherspoon was one of many who supported the movement on the red carpet, and she summed it up perfectly during her interview with Robin Roberts:
“You know, this is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses. The dresses are beautiful; we love the artists that make these clothes. But, this is a group of women—44 nominees this year, Robin, that are women—and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done, you know?”
The question “who are you wearing” isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, nor should it. These award shows are about creativity and these dresses are works of art, so their designers deserve credit. And let’s be real: those of us watching from home love seeing all the gorgeous gowns. Nevertheless, questions about dresses and jewelry shouldn’t overshadow the woman who has made great strides in her career to stand on that red carpet. Women are vastly underrepresented in the media—both onscreen and behind the scenes. Reporters should be focusing on the struggles, goals, and successes of women in media to shine a light on obstacles women face and inspire future generations. So by all means, ask her about the dress; just make sure to ask her more than that (and please destroy that stupid mani cam).