At the 2018 Golden Globes, the vast majority of the people in attendance wore black in solidarity with all the victims of sexual harassment that have gone unnoticed over the years. We explore how this simple statement has ignited a fire that will not easily be extinguished.
Over the years the colour black has been worn for many reasons. People wear it as a sign of commiseration at funerals; Queen Victoria wore it for almost half a century in mourning for her beloved husband Albert. More recently it became synonymous with the ‘Little Black Dress’ as popularised by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). And on Sunday 7th January 2018, it became a symbol of resistance, of hope and of solidarity.
Almost all of Hollywood’s female stars and a good portion of her male ones, wore the colour to show solidarity with and support for all those who have been the victims of sexual abuse from men over the years. 2017 was the great year of the truth, with figures such as Harvey Weinstein being exposed as sexual predators. However, as Oprah Winfrey so eloquently put it, “A new day is on the horizon… when no one ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”
Eva Longoria said of the event, “This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment.” While her view is exceptionally valid, this moment was iconic and shows the power that fashion can have. By designing all those black gowns, the designers were showing their support; by publishing photographs, the news outlets were giving the movement a voice. That is how a global movement of change begins. It began with a lone voice speaking out and saying, “No, this is not acceptable.” The voice grew to be many voices, which in turn grew to a roar. Now that women are fighting this they are unlikely ever to be silenced again.
Fashion does indeed play its part in this fight for equality. While there is still a problem in some sectors of the industry with weight and particular standards, fashion magazines provide a voice to many important causes. Michelle Obama featured on the cover of US Vogue no less than three times while her husband was in office. The Duchess of Cambridge was on British Vogue’s 100th Anniversary edition in 2016 while the current US Vogue features Serena Williams and her baby. Fashion is not an unbiased medium, these three examples alone giving voice to politics, charitable works and athletics while at the same time promoting racial equality.
Hollywood’s female stars are smart and they took their fight to the two places they knew would get the most notice: the Red Carpet and the stage. Photographs of them will continue to appear in magazines, online and on television for several weeks and will be in permanently available archives for years to come. Reese Witherspoon praised all those who had survived assault as “so brave.” These actresses and all their supporters are indeed brave too. They have taken the fight to the media and to the world of fashion and this is one movement that is not going to die out in any hurry.