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Does Feminism Come with a Dress Code?

ad_236938443Since the release of Vanity Fair Magazine this month, Emma Watson has faced a huge backlash of negative comments over her photoshoot featuring an image of her posing semi-nude. She’s been branded a hypocrite and stripped of her feminist title by the public. Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted, “Emma Watson: “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!” Another questioned why it’s not okay for Page 3 models to pose naked, but it’s fine for Emma Watson to do so. These are key examples of people today still not understanding what feminism is.

Feminism is about equality. It’s about women having equal rights to men and the freedom to be who they want to be. The choice to work or not; to have children or not; to wear what they want to wear. Being photographed for a fashion magazine semi-nude should in no way undermine or disregard these rights we as women have fought for. Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair photo shoot in comparison to Page 3 models are two very different mediums of modelling and should not be considered in the same way. Page 3 Girls are photographed to be placed in a daily newspaper where they can assume they will become the objects of the Male Gaze. Emma Watson’s modelling however was part of a piece of art by a professional Fashion photographer, Tim Walker. It was placed in a Fashion Magazine for audiences to look and admire at the clothes she is modelling and the overall aesthetic of the photo. Her boobs are not the subject and it is disappointing to see such a beautiful photo degraded down to just that. She responded in a recent interview stating “I don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”

Feminism is also about de-sexualising women’s bodies. Women’s breasts are primarily there to feed children; not to be viewed by others for their own pleasure. They are a part of a women’s body and should be embraced by them, not hidden away shamefully for fear of others objectifying them. Body confidence is another huge issue in our society today with many lacking it. When women are brave enough to do shoots like this, they should be celebrated for their confidence. Girls should be taught to love their skin and be comfortable in it. Not to hide it away. The idea that Watson should be shamed for loving her body is shocking. Journalist Federica Cocco tweeted “apparently you can’t be a feminist and love your body.”

As an advocate for women’s right, Emma Watson was appointed Ambassador for UN Women in 2014. This is the organisation behind the HeForShe campaign, formed the same year. Their goal is to encourage men to take action against inequalities faced by women. They currently have over 1 million active supporters. Free The Nipple campaign was set up in 2012 by a group of women who believed that they should be allowed to show their nipples in public. On a hot sunny day, a man can walk around topless and nobody would bat an eye, but if a woman were to do the same, she could be arrested for public indecency. The campaign is fighting for equality, empowerment and freedom for all humans. These two campaigns are both globally successful suggesting that feminism is still such a big issue in today’s society. The picture of Emma Watson and the backlash around it have proved how necessary and relevant they still are today, despite how much progress has already been made.

So, does feminism come with a dress code? Absolutely not. Women are free and entitled to dress how they want and should be free to do so without criticism. The way in which a person dresses does not determine the way they think and the morals they stand for. It is small minded to devalue someone’s morals and opinions purely because of the way they are dressed. Emma Watson’s shoot in Vanity Fair should be looked at for what it is: a piece of art.

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