19/05/2014

The saga of Sarah Millican's Baftas dress

Last year, Sarah Millican turned up to the Baftas wearing a dress and shoes, probably like most other women in attendance. And you’ve probably heard what happened next – she checked Twitter on the way home and saw a barrage of self-appointed fashion experts who felt compelled to tell her she looked fat and ugly in her disgusting dress. And we won’t even mention the black shoes she had the audacity to pair with it.

It was enough to make her cry. A grown woman, a comedian, no less – who we can’t imagine crying, ever.

A year later she writes an article for the Radio Times to tell the rest of us – the ones who don’t have the image of her dress burned into our memories – what happened to the one of the loveliest, funniest people in the public eye, before wearing it again, one year later, to perform a stand-up gig. 

If I see someone walking down the street wearing florescent harem pants with stilettos and a beret, I will internally raise my eyebrows (or externally, if they’re facing away from me). I pass judgement in an instant, but then I just as quickly regret it. The adult side of my brain scolds the insecure part – because we all know that’s all it is.

The fact that this is just the way my classmates and I behaved throughout my school years isn’t a good enough excuse, nor is the fact that everyone around me does it now. But voicing those opinions, and directing them to the person in question, goes way beyond just correcting something we've been socialised to do. 

It’s the sad truth that what happened to Sarah won’t come as much of a shock to most of us. But before we just label it as sexist and continue with our lives, we should look at another, equally vicious culprit: fashion. Out-of-context fashion, to be precise.

Last week I read an article picking apart the fashion choices of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in BBC Two's The Trip to Italy - another example of comedians being condemned for their fashion choices. It makes as much sense as criticising a musician for having less-than-perfect shoelace-tying skills.

As lovely and pretty and aspirational as it is, sometimes fashion  and people who impart its questionable ways on those who have better things to worry about (like providing a distraction to our inevitable impending death with their brilliant senses of humour) should just shut up.

The way Sarah described picking out her dress with her friend, and ‘oohing’ at it in the changing rooms, was extremely cute. And most of us can relate to it in some way – we go somewhere feeling great, only to find out others don’t quite agree. And it doesn't feel good. And to know Sarah's bubble promptly exploded everywhere at the hands of people sat in food-stained pyjamas and mismatched socks is a little bit heartbreaking. 
For all it matters, I think her dress was lovely. But that's just the point: it really doesn't. 

8 comments:

  1. Don't ... get me ... started ... on fashion ... ack (no, mustn't ... get ... angry) ... rraarAARRGGHHHH!!

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  2. I really liked her dress. It's a Ted Baker one and I have a different style dress in the same print. I think when people make these awful comments, the side of the brain that makes them realise they're actually addressing another human being with feelings, just completely switches off.

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

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    1. Yeah, I thought it was lovely! xxx

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  3. I love this post!! So true. What is fashion anyway really? Yes, some clothes are inappropriate for certain places. And yes, some clothes are ill-fitting on certain shapes. But besides those, what's the difference from me breaking forth the bright yellow harem pants and denim crop top and calling it style, or Karl Lagerfeld doing it. Designers come out with crazy combos all the time and it's 'art', and the only difference is that they get paid more. And people don't ask them if they 'got dressed drunk again'. xx

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    1. Thank you! Bright yellow harem pants and a denim crop-top actually sounds appealing somehow! And I completely agree - there's no right and wrong when it comes to fashion. Some of the stuff designers come up with wouldn't look out of place on a night bus. xx

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  4. I suppose you can say it doesn't matter and doesn't but when you do a twitter search and see millions of people queuing up to tell her there's nothing wrong with it, it fits well and they like it ...knowing that most of them haven't even thought about the dress at all and a just trying to flatter a celebrity ego you just think vomit. So it didn't look great on her - not the end of the world. I dont know as it's "disgusting" but it doesn't make you see her ... on the plus side at least it was interesting enough to get people talking and in that sense it is clearly a success.

    "But besides those, what's the difference from me breaking forth the bright yellow harem pants and denim crop top and calling it style, or Karl Lagerfeld doing it"

    I think it was Marcel Duchamp who said the difference between a piece of fine art and a piece of rubbish is how much you can sell the rubbish for.

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  5. I'll never understand why anyone cares how a comedian dresses. Or even what they look like. Give me someone who's funny over someone who's "sexy"/"fashionable" any day.

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