Is It Ever OK To Tell A Woman What She Should Be Wearing?

I’ve made no secret that I am fully behind the Time’s Up and Me Too movements and anything that promotes gender equality is great in my eyes. I consider myself a feminist but I have written before that to me feminism is about having the right to choose. It’s about having the freedom to not be dictated to, not by men and certainly not by other women.

Last night at the BAFTAs, guests and nominees were invited to wear black to show solidarity to the TimesUp campaign. The Duchess of Cambridge has faced criticism for not toeing the line and not wearing a black dress. It wasn’t as if she was wearing a hot pink tutu. She was wearing a suitably dark green dress with black accessories, the latter possibly being a nod of support to the prior mentioned campaigns.

This wasn’t enough for some people.

“She clearly doesn’t believe in sisterhood.”

“She doesn’t care about women’s rights.”

“She’s out of touch.”

Rubbish.

Surely dictating to a woman what she should and should not be wearing is the antithesis of what the TimesUp campaign is supposed to be about. It is possible to agree with the sentiment without being a conformist. Look at the Frances McDormand’s wonderful acceptance speech. Whilst she admitted she didn’t want to conform by adhering to the dress code, she added “I stand in full solidarity with my sisters in black.”

As a royal, and wife (and mother) to the future king, Kate is expected to avoid political statements. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t support other women in their fight for gender equality.

The daily obsession with what Kate wears borders on insanity at the best of times, and the media scrutiny must be pretty exhausting. With this one I can’t help feeling it’s the old case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. If she’d worn black she would have been accused of overstepping her position. Choosing not to meant that she wasn’t supporting a woman’s righty to equality. She would have faced controversy whatever she had chosen.

People need to remember how you choose to dress doesn’t and shouldn’t define you or your beliefs.

After all, what is wearing black actually achieving? Raising awareness, maybe. But I’d be willing bet there were plenty people there last night decked out in black who couldn’t care less about female equality. Wearing a black dress, or tuxedo, or pin, doesn’t actually change anything. Actions do. There is something slightly nauseating about seeing these men and women in black bleating about equality in their expensive get ups. Nothing says true equality like a £10,000+ frock!

I am in no way trying to negate the work and bravery of women campaigning for gender equality. I applaud those who have spoken out and are trying to encourage change. I just don’t feel that dictating how a 7 month pregnant woman should be dressing is the best way to go about it.

Doesn’t sisterhood extend to the Duchess? Can we not have the compassion to see that she was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Shaming women for how they dress is not my idea of feminism.

This is not equality.

22 comments

  1. Some people just love to complain! She looked stunning in that dress and she is very pregnant at the moment (as well as having a difficult pregnancy) I don’t care if she went to the Baftas dressed as a Teletubby, people should leave her alone

  2. I haven’t seen any criticism I’m glad to say! Rather ill informed of people really. I’m not a huge royalist but I do know that royal protocol dictates that she isn’t allowed to make political statements. Quite rightly so. Plus isn’t there an archaic rule about royalty only wearing all black when mourning? Either way there are far more important things in the world. It drives me mad that HRH is only ever reduced to her choice of dress. She is more than just a clothes horse and they don’t even let her get that bit right. What about all the good our royal family do for our country? The endless charity work?

  3. You are right – feminism is about equality and having the right to make your own choices from the job you take, where you live, having kids and right down to what you wear.

  4. I have not heard this story, mostly because I don’t watch much TV and the news we get is almost always centered around our President and our government and how much they keep royally screwing things up for the U.S. but I agree with you. The Duchess did make a statement in her own way and are we really going to lower this movement down to what we wear? I get the whole wearing black thing but not everyone can for whatever reason. Let them show their support in their own way. What does it matter as long as they are giving their support? It is a slap in the face for true equality.

  5. Couldn’t agree with you more and as you say damned if you do, damned if you don’t! People would’ve found something to say about her! X #Sharingthebloglove

  6. I haven’t personally seen any criticism of what Kate wore, but the fact that some people are doing it irritates me no end – it’s behaviour like this that holds equality back and puts people off getting behind important movements as they don’t want to be lumped in with the whiners.
    Debbie

  7. I hadn’t even heard of this before, thank you for sharing. People always have to have an opinion on everything don’t they!

  8. Oh yes! Exactly this. I mean… she was in dark green – that should have been a big clue that she’s likely to be backing the movement, just not able to fully show it. But whether or not this is the case, she must be able to wear what she wants right? Or else we are all just taking a step backwards. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeam

  9. I completely agree – she couldn’t win whatever she chose! I thought she looked beautiful regardless, but the national obsession with whatever she’s wearing I suppose means that it’s always going to be a headline story. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  10. You’re so right. I always hate how people seem to attack those that appear to “not support” a cause – for whatever reason. Like you said surely it’s about being there for one another, not telling each other how we should dress. Great post.
    #bloggersbest

  11. The only time it is ok is if the person asks for your opinion. I am very much over the “feminists” who attack other women – they always seem to be the loudest ones screaming any time someone criticizes them. It’s not very feminist minded and brings us all down. #GlobalBlogging

  12. it annoys me the feminists who have no problem attacking other women, IMO they are part of the problem. x

  13. The Duchess was in an impossible position – like you say as a royal she is expected not to make political statements – if she had she would have been criticised, & because she didn’t she’s been criticised too. She’s damned if she does & damned if she doesn’t! #bloggersbest

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