Posted on: Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
Spring is just around the corner, and you know what that means… it’s Award Show season. With the Grammy’s, the BAFTAs, and the SAG Awards behind us, there are still lots of award shows coming up. The 88th annual Academy Awards, affectionately known as The Oscars to the general public, airs this Sunday, February 26th.
Like most other award shows, The Oscars begin with a red carpet event in which every major entertainment media outlet is present, each grappling with the crowds to get a turn to interview the celebrities in their never-before-seen outfits. Simultaneously, paparazzi and photographers are taking photos of the celebrities in a rapid-fire manner, capturing every angle and pose while the spectators scream for attention. These red carpet events are a media frenzy. But do they have implications beyond plain entertainment?
One common criticism of the red carpet and award shows, along with other media content, is their tendency to promote idealized beauty standards. In fact, many fashion designers who are looking to dress celebrities for brand publicity refuse to create any designs larger than a size 4. Additionally, fashion debuts on the red carpet can even overshadow award wins when the media is buzzing about it the next day. According to a 2016 study done in the UK, 37% of girls aged 11-21 often compare themselves to celebrities, resulting feelings of not being pretty, perfect, or slim enough.
Another frequent complaint that has become more vocalized in recent years is the evident sexism on the red carpet carried out by the media. It has been noted that interviewers and media outlets frequently ask female celebrities questions limited to their fashion choices and physical appearance, whereas male celebrities get asked deeper questions regarding their career, costars, and beliefs. According to the same study, 70% of girls aged 11-21 say sexism is so widespread that it affects most areas of their lives, and that they are often made to feel stupid and less able due to their gender. The media, and in specific, entertainment like red carpet shows could be contributing to this perceived sexism.
A big purpose of the media attending red carpet shows is to get the gossip and inside look at celebrity appearances in order to scrutinize, rank, and critique them the following day. Not only do the media do this, but because of social media, virtually anyone with a phone or computer is able to partake in the conversation. Sometimes these conversations, comments, and posts can become cruel and lead to a normalization of cyber-bullying in response to physical appearances. In fact, 49% of girls aged 11-21 say they refrain from expressing themselves on social media because of their fear of digital abuse.
So, should you boycott red carpet shows?
All this being said, some media outlets are taking a stand against the negativity of red carpet shows. For example, Elle Magazine has created the #FlipTheScript campaign in which they encourage red carpet media to interview males with the same superficial questions as given to females to prove a point. Additionally, lots of celebrities are voicing their opinions against this negativity.
Ultimately, the extent to which these types of media impact your self-esteem and well-being is somewhat up to you. Another study concluded that these negative depictions of celebrities will only affect you if you can acknowledge that they are blatantly negative. Although there are many latent and subconscious messages in the media that can hurt one’s body image and self-esteem, a lot of the media’s perspectives can be deflected when you choose to view them with a grain of salt!