Recently, the Pretty Woman star, Julia Roberts went barefoot at Cannes. The media was all over it and some called it another nail in the coffin of patriarchy, some haters disagreed, saying why was she baring her bosom in that Armani dress, some said it’s Julia’s way of protesting the strict rule that women must wear heels on the red carpet… While the voices differed, there were a lot of voices indeed and a lot of noise being made in the media, on Twitter, in my Facebook feed…
Incidentally, Julia Roberts, made another feminist statement in 1999, when she showed up at the premiere of Notting Hill with very hairy armpits, happily flashing them as she smiled her smile of a million watts.
I have always loved Julia Roberts, the film choices, her interviews, the way she looks… so I was drawn to the news and even posted a small article about this deliberate “wardrobe malfunction” on my Facebook page. I didn't think too much about it. But when friends whose opinion I respect, some noted feminists, other thinkers, kept blasting Julia and the writer of that article, who just reported it like it was, I thought maybe this warrants a little more thought.
I applaud Ms Roberts for coming barefoot. It definitely is a step in the right direction. As fashion changes, becoming kinder from the days of corsets and steel hooped petticoats, and the anti-body shaming lobby exhorting us all to flaunt our bodies with pride, whatever the shape or size, I think this embracing personal comfort can only be a good thing. Thank heavens we are now embracing all skin colour, the Dark is Beautiful campaign, and the move from putting anorexic models on the covers of magazines. I love it all!
Recently in the UK where I currently live, there was a huge case of a 29-year-old woman, a temp, being sent home from work (PwC) because she was not wearing heels. This woman filed a case and won huge damages, and there was a lot of debate on this on breakfast shows (guilty, I do sometimes watch those!!), applauding this woman and what it means for women everywhere in the corporate world. All this can only be a good thing for women everywhere. Why should we have to wear heels, unless we want to?
But the haters of Ms Roberts, even yesterday on my page, said it’s not feminism if she wears a bosom-baring dress like that one, and others saying, well if she is a feminist, why does she wear makeup, etc?
My point is simple. Can she not wear a pretty dress if she likes? Why must it all be black and white? Can she not make a simple statement with dark toes and no heels? Must she have unpedicured, ugly feet to be a feminist? These are compelling questions. And the answers shame some of us thinkers, and so-called feminists. I say, more power to you, Julia, may your tribe increase.
People say, oh it’s Julia Roberts. She comes in the news for anything. Or that if anyone walks in on the arms of George Clooney, they get attention. Maybe. Maybe it’s Julia. Or maybe it’s more. Whatever it is, it is a sign for more women worldwide… choose your own style, and let comfort be key, prettily!