We are headed into Hollywood’s award season which means red carpet coverage will soon take over the TV channels. Some people love it, others hate it and people like me will never admit how much they love it. No matter how you feel, the red carpets are full of societal beauty standards.
Women and men who walk the red carpet are heavily critiqued for what they are wearing and their appearances overall. Fashion trends are definitely a big part of that coverage, but those trends come from beauty standards that can sometimes be problematic.
We’ve all probably seen those shows dedicated to reviewing and critiquing what celebrities were wearing on the red carpet, and it’s no secret they can be less than nice.
The issue isn’t the fashion critiquing per say, that’s a critic’s job. So telling a star she looks awful because her dress is poorly constructed is one thing. Sometimes though, we hear commentary on makeup and hair as well as body size and shape.
When we start talking about these critiques is when we get a closer look into the actual issue. The beauty standards in our society are very strict and often unattainable for many. As an example, for years black women have felt pressure to wear wigs and weaves to make their hair more similar to white women. That’s because white is the framework for beauty standards. Black women who choose to wear their hair natural or in a style more correlated with their culture are criticized for looking unkept and messy. Often times we see that sort of beauty standard bias play out in the media and it is passed off as a “fashion critique.”
This is just one example. We’ll cover more specific instances of beauty standards that relate to race, weight and ability another time. In general though, you can see that the media is a prime spot for perpetuating beauty standards.
Lots of times the things we are told look bad or are unattractive are rooted in institutionalized oppressions like racism and white supremacy. Unfortunately, lots of those attitudes have become very ingrained in culture and beliefs, making them seem mild or harmless. So while the red carpet fashion wrap ups can be fun and scandalous, sometimes in this form of media we get a chance to ask ourselves if the critiques are from unattainable beauty standards.