Why I’m sick to death of women being criticised for what they wear (or don’t)

Boobs are boobs at the end of the day

In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of incidents where women in the spotlight have been questioned, not only on their political beliefs, but their outfit choices too. And, to be quite honest, I’m done with it.

Yes, a little healthy competition of ‘best dressed’ between candidates at awards ceremonies keeps the fashion game interesting. However, judging a woman’s clothing in order to criticise, slut-shame or question their political or moral stance is undoubtedly out of date and unnecessary.

In this day and age, many people are under the impression that slut-shaming is no longer a problem, and that women can wear what they want, when they want. However, this illusion is shattered when we consider issues such as rape culture, which encourages the idea that women are to be blamed for being raped as a result of the length of their skirt, while the media continues to prompt this type of shaming and criticism. For instance, last week Emma Watson caused quite a stir in the media, not because of her much anticipated role in the film Beauty and the Beast, but because of her boobs nonetheless.

The 26 year old actress posed for a ‘topless’ photo for Vanity Fair. Despite Emma looking utterly beautiful and angelic in the artistic photo shoot, many people felt the need to criticise this particular photo for being too sexual to be feminist. The photo is frankly anything but sexual as we see the actress posing in a crotchet bolero covering the majority of her upper-body, and showing god-forbid a little under-boob.

Emma’s ‘raciest shoot ever’

Many users on social media began to label Emma a “hypocrite” for advocating and promoting the fact that women do in fact have breasts and allowing herself to be sexualised, despite the fact that she’s a feminist.

Honestly, I wasn’t aware that there was a correlation between the two.

Does this mean that male feminists can no longer walk along a beach topless without being hypocritical, because nipples are obviously so significant and mysterious that someone who promotes the equality of men and women can’t possibly show their breasts? Emma was quick to shutdown the haters as she proudly stated in a BBC interview that feminism is “about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”

That extra fat is so sexual isn’t it?

Unfortunately the unnecessary sexualisation of women doesn’t stop there. Actress and advocate for sexual assault survivors, Brie Larson, was ridiculed in the Daily Mail a few weeks ago for her choice of outfit on the One Show. Once again, instead of focusing on the new film Kong that Brie and her co-stars were promoting, the actress’ cleavage was the talking point of the article. Much like Watson, Brie looked stunning in her nude ensemble, however according to the Daily mail, was said to have “left very little to the imagination,” and was inappropriate for a family show.

Let’s be honest here, who hasn’t seen a pair of boobs?

Even children who are breastfed have seen them and know what they are. What’s even worse is that when Brie appeared on This Morning the following day wearing another beautiful outfit that just so happened to be a collared dress, the media reported this as the actress having learnt her lesson for her previous “pre-watershed busty display.”

The ‘daring ensemble’ in question

Are the media insinuating that it would seem out of question that she wore the dress because she liked it, in the same way that she liked the outfit she chose the night before? Does every fashion statement a woman makes have to have a reason behind it for people to scrutinise? Maybe Emma Watson appeared ‘topless’ because she wanted to and felt beautiful, maybe Brie Larson tried on the nude dress and felt sexy. If so, what’s so wrong about that?

At the end of the day boobs are boobs, and – to quote Julia Roberts – “they’re odd looking, they’re for milk, your mother has them, you’ve seen a thousand of them… What’s all the fuss about?”

I am completely over the media’s obsession with boobs, and their constant desire to sexualise women – no matter what they’re wearing.



Queen's University Belfast