beauty

BRAVO: Internet trolls call female celebrity "fat and ugly". So she called them on their bulls**t.

Comedian Sarah Millican at the BAFTAs.

You might not recognise this woman, and you might not recognise her dress. But this woman – and her dress – has inspired one of the most cutting red carpet comebacks we’ve ever heard.

And most of the red carpet watching world, as well as feminists everywhere, are celebrating.

Sarah Millican is a British comedian who after last year’s BAFTA Awards was slammed by professional fashion police and pundits at home alike. People said she looked like a “nana”, that her outfit was “disastrous” – and much more besides.

But rather than deciding she just had to wear her criticisim, Millican has decided to hit back in an on-point essay for the Radio Times, in which she points out how ridiculous it is for women to be derided for their outfit choices – at an event that isn’t even about fashion.

Millican shares that she bought her dress from a chain store, because “fancy expensive designer shops are out for me as I’m a size 18, sometimes 20, and I therefore do not count as a woman to them”. She also shares how – before the event, at least – she loved the dress she chose to wear to the BAFTAs.

She says, “We knew which one was the right one as soon as I swished back the curtain and both my friend and I oohed.”

But after the event?

[After the BAFTAs] I went onto Twitter and it was like a pin to my excitable red balloon. Literally thousands of messages from people criticising my appearance. I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) was destroyed by the masses. I looked like a nana, my dress was disgusting, was it made out of curtains, why was I wearing black shoes with it. I cried. I cried in the car.

And that wasn’t the end. The next day, I was in newspapers pilloried for what I was wearing. I was discussed and pulled apart…”

Now, many people like to oooh and aaah over the fashion at the Oscars, BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. But there’s a difference between sitting at home and thinking, ‘oh my, Jennifer Lawrence looks lovely’ – and sending a message to a celebrity on Twitter calling them ‘fat and ugly’.

“I felt wonderful in that dress. And surely that’s all that counts.”

Don’t worry, here’s where it gets good. Think ‘Cate Blanchett calling out the E! camera crew at the SAG Awards‘ good. Or ‘Emma Stone explaining why it’s not okay for people to tell her to eat a sandwich‘ good.

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Millican isn’t willing to take this kind of pointless critique, without giving some constructive criticism back. Why is a comedian expected to look like a model, anyway?

Why didn’t anyone ask Millican’s husband where he got his tux from? And why is her dress considered to be so much more important than her performance skills or her ability to make people laugh?

She explains that she may have looked “awkward as I’m not a model (I’m a comedian), have never learnt how to pose on a red carpet (I’m a comedian) and I have pretty low self-esteem.”

However, she also points out that she wasn’t invited to the BAFTAS in the first place for her sartorial sensibilities.

“I’m sorry,” Millican writes, “I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job.”

She continues:

Why does it matter so much what I was wearing? Why did no one ask my husband where he got his suit from? I felt wonderful in that dress. And surely that’s all that counts. I made a decision the following day that should I ever be invited to attend the Baftas again, I will wear the same dress. To make the point that it doesn’t matter what I wear; that’s not what I’m being judged on. With the added fun of answering the red carpet question, “Where did you get your dress?” with “Oh, it’s just last year’s, pet”.

And of course Millican would have a hilarious comeback planned.

Because she’s good at her job and that’s why she was invited to the BAFTAs in the first place.

Here’s what some of the other celebrities invited to the BAFTAs wore. And – like Sarah Millican – they probably each chose a dress they felt wonderful in. That’s the most important thing. 

Do you think it’s okay to judge celebrities negatively for their red carpet fashion choices? Or do you think discussing their outfits at all – whether positive or negative – is detrimental?