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“We’re More Than Just Our Dresses”: The #AskHerMore Campaign

Despite the usual red carpet interviews and celebrity gossip, the 87th Academy Awards that took place this past weekend were not only about recognizing the excellent work in film that occurred this year, but were also about our desperate need for social change.

The #AskHerMore campaign is backed by The Representation Project and is wholeheartedly supported by Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette, and many others. This movement calls for a much needed change in both red carpet dialogue and the way that women are received on award show nights. When a red carpet host is interviewing a female nominee, one of the first questions out of his or her mouth is typically, “Who are you wearing?”, setting the tone for the rest of the conversation that will primarily focus on her appearance. From the designer of the gown to the choice of jewelry, practically every aspect of this woman’s ensemble will be thoroughly assessed, leaving out any discussion of her success in the field or of herself as a person.

Quite frankly, Witherspoon and others are tired of this inconsiderate behavior. They argue that this type of dialogue is rooted in sexist standards and needs to be challenged and reformed so that women are better represented in film, music and other industries. Having been nominated for Best Actress for her role in Wild, Witherspoon took this opportunity to get the word out about the #AskHerMore campaign, and used social media and other methods to spread awareness of this movement. The following picture is one that Reese Witherspoon posted on Instagram this past week, coupled with a thought-provoking caption that prompts people to think deeper about the implications of red carpet conversation.

Considering her empowering performance as Cheryl Strayed in Wild and in many other films, as well as her advocacy for important causes such as this, I believe that Witherspoon is an all-around excellent role model for women both on and off the screen. I feel that the #AskHerMore movement is drawing much-needed attention to the way that women’s work and talents are devalued by social custom. While I certainly love red carpet gowns as much as the next person, I could not agree more with Reese Witherspoon’s statement that, “This is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses.”

As a society, we need to keep in mind that it is the woman who wears the dress and not the dress who wears the woman. The hosts of the red carpet need to take the time and make the effort to acknowledge the successes of the incredibly talented actress, singer, or filmmaker who is wearing the stunning gown. As Reese Witherspoon and others have powerfully advocated, the questions posed on the red carpet need to ask about who these women are rather than just who they’re wearing. Most importantly, we need to remind ourselves that the Academy Awards and other awards shows are about recognizing the accomplishments of talented individuals, and that these women have more to share with the world than an outfit choice.

 

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Katie Anne

Notre Dame

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