Posted by: beccamariej | September 23, 2012

The Focus on Appearance

I was watching the Emmy Awards tonight and I kept hearing about this one woman named Lena Dunham who was up for several awards for directing, acting, and writing. I decided to look her up since we were discussing recently about the decline of women directors in the film industry. I found this article on the 2nd link in a Google search on her and yes, it mentioned her accomplishments in television, but the majority of the article was focusing on her appearance and wanted to know whether or not readers “liked it or loathed it.” 

Here is a piece from the article: 

So when she stepped out on tonight to chat with E!’s Ryan Seacrest, we held our breathe… and then exhaled in partial relief. Her new ‘do, a trendy pixie cut, looked perfectly coiffed — super chic. Her makeup was all smoky eyes and nude lips, which never gets old. And her Prada dress… well, that’s where we ran into troubles.

For as much as we discussed this sort of thing in class, it still bothers me that we focus so much on women’s looks despite how much they have accomplished. It also bothered me to hear the interviews constantly asking about the designer of the women’s outfits and why they chose that particular dress…well why not ask the men those types of questions? I feel like this just makes it double the pressure for women; not only are they nervous for the awards, but they also have to please the crowd with their fashion choices. 

What do you all think?


  1. I share your frustration 100%…though I must admit, I’m ever so guilty of looking for the beautiful dresses on the red carpet because I also appreciate fashion. I’m working on figuring out how to support the clothes without disreguarding the women and their accomplishments. For example, I am guilty of buying the magazines with “Who wore it better?” so I’m certainly not helping the cause. I wish, for once, they’d look out for male celebs wearing the same tie or suit or wristwatch, so they could put THAT in “Who wore it better?”

    • Yes, I completely understand what you mean! I’m the exact same way: I am not opposed to wearing pretty dresses and I do like to wear nice clothes, but it should, most definitely, not be the main focus. Also, it’s never a big deal when guys wear the same designer tux…why should it be a big deal when girls wear the same things?

  2. Wow! That is really unfortunate…it’s not like we refer to men based on their appearances, especially within the renown film industry. I completely agree with your post. Why not as men too? Instead of focusing on women’s accomplishments, the media and typically society in general is more concerned with what they wear and what they look like. There is definitely “double pressure” on women in industries like the film/directing industry. Realistically, there should not even be a double pressure at all. Women should be treated with respect and equality similar to that of men. Thanks for posting about this topic. I think the media needs to be targeted directly for issues such as this.

  3. I agree with what you. Ever since this class has started, I have noticed it a lot more that women are always asked what they are wearing, and society seems to care more about what they are wearing rather than what they are actually doing. I was watching a show a few weeks back when the Democratic Convention was happening, and all they could talk about was what Michelle Obama was wearing rather than what she spoke about. Becca, when you said “it’s never a big deal when guys wear the same designer tux…why should it be a big deal when girls wear the same things?”, I think that is a very interesting concept that I personally have never thought of. It’s true. We see this all the time in magazines, on who wore it better sections. Social media is constantly pinning women against each other which could be a reason for why women are so competitive. Along with the constant question of “what are you wearing?”, I feel like women are always asked about how their children are. I rarely notice in interviews when men are asked about their children. Just another concept I thought of when I saw this.

  4. It’s the whole mind set of the media, I think. They’ve built up this habit of objectifying women – focusing on the clothes, the bodies, and the personal lives. They never took women seriously before, so why start when they’re going into politics? The media want’s to sell the idea that women need to focus on their clothes and pleasing their man, so they focus on clothes and personal lives when they should not. I also believe that’s its part of the whole 1950’s mind set about women that never really went away. Men don’t think of women as CEO’s or the next US president. They see women as the the housewives who greet them after work with a cocktail and a smile.

  5. On one hand, it’s extra pressure and scrutiny. On the other hand, I’d like to think ladies can have more fun. Men’s formalwear fashion is quite limited, at least by conventional standards. By contrast, women get to wear dresses, which can be a whole range of shapes and colors and textures that can project anything they want (fierceness, delicacy, regality, etc).

    I read an article in the Washington Post Magazine a while ago about the new power color for women: white. It broke down how red has become associated with Trump (his “make America great again” hats, specifically), hot pink was taken up by protesters in the women’s march (pink pussy hats), and how democratic female senators wore all white for the inauguration (evoking the suffragette movement). Fashion can be more political than we realize, and it’s a useful tool.

    The trouble is when our appearance is given more attention that our accomplishments.

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