Millican’s Flower Power with a John Lewis Dress

Looking at the red carpet immediately conjures up thoughts of glamour, photographers and talent.

Looking at the red carpet immediately conjures up thoughts of glamour, photographers and talent. In today’s society, however, it’s the talent part that seems to becoming less and less important, especially for women. Women are scrutinised for their appearance more harshly than ever before and their figures, makeup and dress sense are of most importance, a minor mistake warrants a report in tabloids and online.

So, when this superficial and bullying nature is exposed, it is a refreshing surprise and speaks volumes.

Comedian Sarah Millican has provided exactly that. Her article in The Radio Times, responding to the criticism of the dress she wore to the BAFTAs, has left her with the last laugh over her critics and accurately conveys what award ceremonies should be about.

Having been harshly criticised for her wardrobe choice at the BAFTAs last year, Millican explains how she felt when she had a look on Twitter: “My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) 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.”

No I’m sorry 

It begs the question, why do people feel the need to pull women apart when they do not adhere to the conventionally stylish supermodel stereotype? Looks are supposed to come second to substance, and quite clearly, Sarah Millican has substance.

She says: “I’m sorry. I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job. Putting clothes on is such a small part of my day.”

My only problem with this is the “I’m sorry” part, there is absolutely no need to apologise (even sarcastically) for being aware that these awards are meant to be about your talent, not your attire.

Instead of accepting the criticisms, Millican’s honest and sharp witted response has highlighted the unfair manner in which women in particular are treated when it comes to appearances. No one asked her husband what he was wearing and where it was from (Asda) but her dress (from John Lewis, who doesn’t love a bit of John Lewis?!) was attacked in the newspapers, online and on television (I am disappointed in you, Lorraine).

It seems there are separate rules for the red carpet for men and women. Men are more likely to be asked about their achievements whereas women will be asked “who”they are wearing. It unfortunately suggests the idea that women are valued because of what they wear and what they look like. It’s likely there will be arguments that that is a feminist perspective and what’s wrong with wanting to know who designed the dress?

What really matters?

Firstly, “feminist” usually has negative connotations, it is not about treating women as superior to men, it is about treating then equally. So yes, that is a feminist view because I think women and men should be treated equally, even when it comes to the red carpet.

I agree, there is nothing wrong with wanting to know who designed the dress, but when men aren’t asked that, or women are judged based only on this, then there’s a problem. And that’s exactly what happened to Sarah Millican, judged on her dress and not her talent.

In true style (the type that counts most), the comedian wore the very same dress on the night of this year’s BAFTAs to her show in Buxton. Her defiance towards critics has provided a valuable message to women—rather than feeling the pressure to adhere to appearance stereotypes, placing more importance on real talent is most significant.

When this isn’t recognised there is no need to simply take it, a witty article is absolutely necessary.

It’s a candid and ugly (how ironic) reflection of society today, but moments like these where there is a refusal to simply accept such mindless comments is a breath of fresh air with a society that is being clogged up with stereotypes and foolish priorities. Those putting people down because they think they’re dress looks like a curtain are the bullies in the playground and it’s unfortunate that some people never quite grow up.

Regardless, these critics weren’t nominated for a BAFTA so if they can’t say anything nice, they shouldn’t be saying anything at all.

Simply put, Sarah Millican: we love you. We love you because you’re funny and that’s why you were nominated (and quite rightly). No matter what you wore, it should not have been the focus of the evening and your response has been a brilliant show of defiance.

What do you think of Millican’s response? Have your say in the comments section below.