A place where imagination, creativity, and art come to life. The red carpet has been home to some of the most glamorous events today denoting stratospheric status, style, and opulence. However, it has also become a spectacle for the world to criticize.
From Lady Gaga’s 2011 ‘Grammy egg’ to Lil’ Kim’s 1999 ‘purple pasty dress’, the red carpet holds some of the most iconic outfits with the power to influence millions. Creating a space for people to talk. As mass media has the ability to reach audiences around the world, sharing thoughts on the ‘best’, ‘worst’, and most ‘controversial’ outfits, it has become the equivalent of a megaphone for supporters and critics alike. But how can we use this megaphone to raise awareness for important matters?
Lady Gaga’s arguably most talked-about outfit, ‘the meat dress’ sparked conversation over society’s attitude towards meat, animal rights, and anti-fashion. However, Gaga had a different message behind the dress. Stating “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones”. Within the media and society, we tend to jump to conclusions, sparking more controversy than intended. However, that seems to be the point.
The wave of attention carried from an outfit like Gaga’s results in it being one of history’s most iconic dresses. Carried around the world with an ingrained message signed and carried forward by the outfit-wearer, Gaga raised awareness of important issues. However, this can be difficult at times due to fear of media backlash through being “different”.
Overcoming this fear, figures Jamie Chung, Joaquin Phoenix, and Ava DuVernay have raised awareness for issues through red carpet outfits. Issues such as sustainability in fashion, climate change, and anti-Asian and Muslim hate. Other figures such as Ryan Gosling, Aunjanue Ellis, and Simon Helberg have contributed to raising awareness on the red carpet. Bringing attention to important issues through global events holds the power to reach millions. Sparking conversations on these matters, the red carpet can be the perfect place for this to occur.
Focusing the attention on ‘why’, rather than ‘who’ they’re wearing, the red carpet has the ability to influence consumers greatly. With Elizabeth Banks re-wearing a dress in 2020 “to bring global awareness to the importance of sustainability in fashion and consumerism” and Sandra Oh wearing an embroidered jacket paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement and her Korean heritage. The red carpet can encourage positive change amongst thousands of viewers.
Dangers of the red carpet
However, as the red carpet holds the ability to influence positive change, it has the power to encourage the opposite. With body-shaming and unrealistic beauty standards displayed across mass media, consumers and public figures alike can feel isolated. ausing a range of mental health issues and serious illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia in an attempt to reach unrealistic standards.
Influencing consumers to look and dress in certain ways to be what the media interprets as ‘beautiful’ can discourage diversity and inclusivity. With Bebe Rexha rejected by designers for the 2019 Grammy Awards as she was deemed “too big” as a size 12, and Lindsey Vonn deliberately losing weight as she was considered “too muscular”, raising awareness for body positivity and inclusivity is important to avoid situations like this happening again.
Growing up, surrounded by Barbie dolls and watching predominately white supermodels walk the red carpet, there was little to no knowledge of someone who looked like me to be considered beautiful. I was either too dark or too curvy to ever think I could be pretty. The red carpet encouraged that through the lack of diversity and awareness of body positivity.
Positive change begins with raising awareness for this. Ensuring others don’t grow up thinking they could never be beautiful because they’ve never seen someone similar on media platforms. Whether it be the same ability, colour, size, shape, sexuality, or gender. Raising awareness for inclusivity is an important step in the right direction to creating a positive change.
The red carpet has the power to become a megaphone for awareness, spreading like wildfire around the world. Without inclusivity, the red carpet has the ability to be detrimental to our society. Therefore, these events play a role in taking a step towards equality, encouraging positive changes in an ever-changing world.