“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Fashion often hits the headlines. Movie stars often hit the headlines. But when the biggest players in Hollywood use fashion to take a stand and make a political point, it creates a phenomenon that you just can’t get away from (well, online at least!).
In case you missed it, nearly all of the women attending the Golden Globes Award ceremony last weekend wore black in support of the #TimesUp campaign against sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.
Using fashion as a political platform is becoming increasingly common, but it’s not necessarily a brand new trend.
12 months ago, designers at the London and New York Fashion week came out in support of Planned Parenthood (a non-profit organisation that provides sexual health care – mainly for women – which is under threat from the Trump administration), civil liberties, refugee agencies, and women’s rights & feminism. They also provided commentary on Trump, Scottish and English unity, cultural diversity and Brexit.
Go further back into history, and you’ll find that the original Suffragettes also used fashion as a weapon. They dressed as femininely as possible to smash the stereotype of a “strong-minded woman” (not a compliment at the turn of the last century!) and to help persuade other women to join them in their cause by making it more “mainstream”. For a fascinating article on this, including the background as to why many of the celebrities at the Golden Globes accessorised their black outfits with emerald jewellery, see HERE.
And of course, what one doesn’t wear can say just as much – a headline-grabbing campaign for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in the ‘90s featured naked supermodels and the slogan “We’d rather go naked than wear fur.”
The Time’s Up initiative comes on the back of the shocking allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (and others), and the subsequent reports that came out about the abuse and discrimination against women in so many other sectors and industries in 2017.
The upsetting but empowering hashtag #MeToo was the immediate result of those revelations and what we are seeing now is the (hopefully) gathering momentum of a movement that will change the lives of women across the globe.
But just how serious are these rich, pampered and privileged women who live in a bubble so seemingly disconnected from real life?
On social media, you can find some powerful reasons from the movie stars who used the hashtag #WhyWeWearBlack to explain that their outfit choice on Sunday night wasn’t just an example of tokenism or an easy way to look “woke”.
The evening was also taken to another level by Oprah Winfrey and her already iconic speech (indeed there have been calls for her to run for president in 2020). It was a call to arms from one of the world’s most powerful women. To read the speech in full, see HERE.
Here in the UK, we live in a free society. We can show the world our personal stance on any topic imaginable by wearing a slogan t-shirt supporting (or condemning) the cause of your choice. But while wearing that t-shirt or black dress alone will not change the world, worn with the right intentions and positive action it can make a difference.
So, to anyone who has ever dismissed fashion as frivolous, I - and Oprah - would beg to differ.