opinion

Meshel Laurie: "Women can wear what they want. Other women can say what they want about it."

So Chrissy Teigen exposed her genitals on a red carpet a couple of weeks ago. I wrote that I hated it and was accused of everything from idiocy to slut shaming. 

For the record, I never called her, or even insinuated, I have any problem with “sluts”. I just thought she was trying to steal the limelight at a music awards night, when she’s not a musician and it was a night belonging to lots of women who are.

Chrissy Teigen's fashion statement that had everyone talking. Images via Getty.

I think it's a shame that an exposed vagina took everyone's attention. I don't think you should have to flash your vag to make sure people know you were there. 

This week's AACTA awards has provided its own red carpet fashion extravaganza, and as I flipped through the various online galleries, I felt guilty for judging the outfits, even in my own head. I wondered if I was slut-shaming, or missing the bravery, and then I thought, "actually, screw this, what am I expected to do when you wear a hideous outfit and pose for photos for the media in it?". 

Surely, when they make a "brave fashion statement", it is they who're supposed to be brave when others think it's fugly. Yet it's we who call it out who're abused online by those who seem to believe that every woman deserves hero status for everything she does. Especially hot, famous, young women. Apparently it's the rest of us who must be brave when a famous young woman does something stupid, at least those of us who refuse to worship celebrity, unquestioningly. 

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So what's the etiquette now? Do we now bite our lips in the face of fashion? Do we falsely applaud every fashion decision? Do we homogenise fashion commentary to the extent that it ceases to exist?  Do we have to cry "everyone looks great, every decision was right, everyone's a genius who can do no wrong..."  Are we really that precious? 

What is the point of the red carpet anyway? Should everyone just go inside and enjoy the show without the inane conversations about "who" they're wearing and close ups of their manicures? I'd be fine with that, but I'm not a fashion animal. The fashion animals I know live to run the gauntlet of the red carpet, to see who makes it proudly to the other end, and who's left floundering by the wayside.  Other people's opinions, positive and negative, are what keep the fashion world turning. Without judgement, fashion is just...clothes! 

I'm happy to say we all should wear whatever we want, regardless of how good it looks. I spend a lot of my life in Bintang singlets and shorts, but I don't pose in them on red carpets, the sacred space of fashion judgement. When I go to events I wear such boring clothes I'm often mistaken for staff, because I choose not to play the fashion judgement game. I admire my friends who do take risks, but they do so because the thrill of having one pay off is so intoxicating. The thrill is sharpened by the knowledge that it may not. That people might just think it sucks. That's the risk. That's the point. 
Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud team discuss Chrissy Teigen's controversial red carpet outift choice. (Post continues after audio):

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I used to love Joan Rivers' show "Fashion Police". It treated fashion as an art form, a subjective, imperfect form of personal expression. As with every other art form, once it's released from the artist's hands, the original purpose and inspiration are set free and every individual who experiences it, experiences it anew, to make of it what they will. 

The reality of celebrity fashion choices is that for some people, the attention attracted by a hideous outfit is the actual aim of the game. Whether you top the best or worst dressed list, you're still in all the magazines and that is the actual point. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that every action performed by every woman is virtuous or politically perfect. 

"[Fashion police] treated fashion as an art form, a subjective, imperfect form of personal expression." Image via E!

The fact is, women can wear whatever they want, and other women can say whatever they want about it. Surely that's feminism? Or are certain women above certain other women? Are some more equal than others? 

I would like to take this opportunity though, to congratulate the NSW chapter of WIFT (women in film and television) who staged a brilliant display on the AACTAs red carpet this week. Talk about upstaging for good instead of evil! 

These women dressed up a sausages, and chanted "end the sausage party" as they stormed the red carpet, to highlight to ridiculous gender inequality in the Australian entertainment industry. Now that's a red carpet statement. 

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