LIFESTYLE
19/05/2014 10:53 BST | Updated 19/05/2014 15:59 BST

Why We Should All Be Following Sarah Millican And Saying No To Red Carpet Sexism

This week, the stars have been out in full force for the Baftas and the Billboard Music Awards.

The televised ceremonies give us average folk the chance to applauded our stars for their creativity and talent. They also give us the chance to see the celebrities as themselves, on the red carpet.

bafta

But while a man on the red carpet may be asked about his artistic achievements in the last year, a woman gracing the floor is more likely to be asked 'who' she's wearing.

When it comes to red carpet etiquette there seems to be two sets of rules - one for men and one for women.

Back in January, Cate Blanchett called out the blatant sexism that some of the world's most successful women are subjected to on the red carpet.

When she caught a camera scanning her up and down at the SAG Awards during her interview with E! News, Blanchett looked straight into the offending lens and said "Do you do that to the guys?"

Image Credit: Matt's GIFs

The simple answer to her question is no, the cameras do not do that to guys - you can scrutinise a woman's appearance, but not a man's... apparently.

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Comedian Sarah Millican knows all too well the abuse women can suffer after those red carpet pics hit the web and press.

In 2013, Sarah was nominated for a bafta. But instead of celebrating her talent as a (blooming hilarious) comedian, the media and members of the public on Twitter were more concerned with Sarah's choice of outfit.

sarah millican bafta

Writing for the Radio Times, Sarah said: "The red carpet is very intimidating, although I garnered a few laughs when I replied to the “Who are you wearing?” question with “John Lewis” and the “Where did you get your dress?” question with “The Trafford Centre”.

"I had a few awkward photos taken by the wall of paparazzi. 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."

After the event, Sarah made the mistake of looking on Twitter where she found "literally thousands of messages from people criticising [her] appearance."

"I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress [...] 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."

Now we all love having a nosey at what the stars are wearing to the awards, but is admiring a designer gown really the same as criticising the person within?

A line has been crossed when we stop talking about a dress and start insulting a woman.

Sarah didn't attend this year's Bafta awards as she was working elsewhere, but said that if she had have gone to the ceremony again, she would have worn the exact same outfit.

"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."

The problem with criticising a woman's appearance on the red carpet is that it becomes habit, perpetuating the idea that all women should be valued in terms of their appearance.

How many times have you heard someone say "she's too fat/thin to wear that dress"? Now how many times have you heard a similar thing said about a man? Chances are it's considerably less.

It's great that the likes of Sarah Millican and Cate Blanchett are pointing out the lack of gender equality women experience every day - but they really shouldn't have to suffer such sexist behaviour in the first place.