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Does Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair Shoot Make Her A “Bad Feminist”?

Emma Watson has recently been criticised for her photos in Vanity Fair. This beautiful and talented woman, an exceptional feminist, has been labelled a “bad feminist” by some for this one specific photograph:  

You might be thinking “why does this photo make her a bad feminist?” That is what I first thought when I saw the photographs—well my first thought was “wow, she’s gorgeous”—but some people had a different opinion, claiming that her posing topless makes her a “bad feminist.”


According to these people everything that Emma Watson has done with the He for She campaign, her role in the UN and generally being an incredible feminist and role model, are all undermined by the fact that she posed topless?

The issue here is that these people have the wrong idea of what feminism represents. Feminism isn’t about stopping women expressing their sexuality or covering up to be taken seriously. It is about women having choices, being able to choose how they want to dress, behave and generally have the same choices as men. As Hannah Cranston writes so eloquently, “The choices we make as women do not undermine our loyalty to equality for our gender, but rather support it, nay embolden it. Intrinsic in anyone’s feminist agenda should lie the power of choice and the power to be multi-dimensional human beings of society.” (You can find her article on the topic here.) In a society where young girls are constantly being ambushed with ideas of the “perfect” body image and more girls are becoming unsatisfied with their bodies should we not be celebrating Emma Watson’s confident display of her own body? Should we not be admiring how she is confident enough to make this choice?

I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a “bad feminist” and we need to focus on the fact that Emma Watson has done incredible things for feminism and her incredible career accomplishments and stop thinking that feminism is anything other than giving women equal choices.

Third year University student at Western, here on exchange. Normally study English Literature and American Studies at The University of Nottingham in England. Book nerd and Shonda Rhimes fangirl.
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