Magazines, newspapers and websites are crammed with glossy images of celebrities posing at film premieres, awards ceremonies or the latest hotspot openings. This constant parade has led actress Jennifer Saunders to refer to the red carpet as ‘the new beauty pageant’. She argues that it encourages people to judge celebs, and particularly women, solely on how they look. Are we all just getting a fun fashion fix when we check out those gorgeous gowns, or is there a more sinister side to our curiosity?
While everyone is keen to find out who scooped the main prizes at big awards ceremonies, almost as much attention is paid to the way celebrities dress for the occasion. Perhaps this isn’t surprising – when your wardrobe is full of office wear like pencil skirts and smart Clarks shoes, checking out some stunning gowns can serve as the perfect chance to escape to a more glamorous world. Just because you don’t like one dress as much as the other doesn’t mean you’re judging the woman wearing it. Similarly, acknowledging someone’s fashion sense doesn’t mean you don’t see them as an intelligent and interesting person!
It’s not as if readers are the only ones benefiting from this culture of celeb gazing. Most celebrities use the red carpet to promote their own interests, whether that’s a new fashion line, album or movie. Getting their names in the newspapers is necessary to further their careers, and wiggling into a designer dress to catch the eyes of fans and critics is part of a modern celebrity’s job description.
This explains why rocking the red carpet is not just a case of looking pretty and polished, but actually requires some creativity. The more outrageous a look the more column inches the celeb is guaranteed. For example, everyone remembers Lady Gaga’s meat dress that she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Eye-catching and totally unique, this dress is a perfect example of the way celebs play up to their audience’s fascination with their fashion sense in a bid to get attention. Viewers might be passing judgement, but the canny celeb is getting free promotion.
However, the process of strutting down the red carpet, posing for photos and answering inane interview questions is remarkably similar to beauty pageants. In these competitions, contestants exhibit themselves so that others can rate their level of attractiveness. While innocently flicking through photos of fabulous ensembles in your lunch hour is hardly harmful, the ‘worst dressed’ lists and critical tweets and headlines that accompany those red carpet shots show that there is a fine line between taking an interest in the latest looks and passing judgement on the women wearing them.
Do viewers really have a right to criticize celebrities’ red carpet outfits? While there’s no doubt that the glitz and glamour of these events makes for an appealing escape, it’s important to remember that these are real people. Red carpet fashion should be fun and fabulous, rather than an opportunity to judge the people beneath the clothes.
What are your thoughts on the red carpet?
Guest Post by Author Catherine Lavinia