Dressing down

I had an argument today with a friend of friend about Sarah Millican’s dress.

Some background for you, in case you’ve missed the story.

Sarah Millican is a comedian who was nominated for a Bafta, had a wonderful evening and was eviscerated on Twitter for the temerity of having breasts. She was devastated but responded magnificently and very good for her. Millican was betrayed by her dress which she says looked lovely in the shop but which really didn’t look great in the photographs. This happens, the camera is a bastard at times. As she pointed out she’s a comedian not a model and has never learned to walk or pose in front of cameras.

What was egregious about the response to Millican’s dress was not that it was commented on, but that it was commented on in public.  There is a whole sub-specialty of fashion journalism dedicated to being bitchy about women on the red carpet. And then there is twitter. Oh lord.

I commented in a closed thread on Facebook about other choices Millican could have made and was roundly bollocked for doing so.  But I am English, and was brought up not to be rude to people to their face. Other people think we are a culture of hypocrites because we will comment discretely behind your back. The internet makes this hard, of course. Hence twitter storms.

However, I really felt for Millican. I have more or less the same figure and I never know where to put my tits in a photograph. I end up being so self-conscious when I know there’s a camera around that I always have the shifty look of someone who’s just wet themselves. The only photographs of myself that I like are ones where I didn’t know I was being photographed, or where I’ve given up responding to the camera at all.  So in this thread of doom I was reflecting on my own experience: I too face the difficulty Millican describes of finding clothes that I like and fit.

Two months ago I had my photograph taken for a national paper, one of the ones with a circulation in millions not tens of thousands, and it’s not an experience I enjoyed. I was more resigned than nervous; nervous is for situations where you have some agency. I settled for looking groomed rather than attractive and thought about what to wear for weeks beforehand. I had my hair and nails done,  I wore a highish necked dress and a waterfall cardigan that cut vertically across my boobs. The photographer hated the fact I wore black. If I had known, I’d have worn a different colour. I like to be helpful and he seemed to know his job. the piece has not yet been published, but I will probably ask someone else to read the comments thread for me. The ironic thing is that the story isn’t even about me.  Oh well.

I am so sad that Millican’s bubble was burst after the Baftas. She is a talented person, and deserves so much better.

3 responses to “Dressing down

  1. Repost from Facebook if it ever works and posts there. I read Sarah’s rebuke of the comments on Twitter and in the media and she basically did what I think everyone should do: go out and buy somehting you feel comfortable in. I do not know about the Twitter comments(probably summed up as ‘unfunny fat comedienne in crappy dress’)but the media comments were bsaically by women who seem to do so to purge their inadequacy feelings, self-loathing and jealousy onto someone else…much like trolls bascially do. The ironic thing is alot of them are the same people who write feminist columns in the Gruniad and then slag people off for wearing the wrong clothes in other columns. Thye might say that is what feminism is: being able to be assertive and say what you like but I call it c**ty and if you can’t say something nice keep your bloody mouth shut.

    The dress suited her and she might not be everyone’s cup of tea but she can be funny, is under no illusions about herself and is a human being who can hurt like everyone else…and it isn’t as though she takes the mick out of others in her stand-up.

    A darn shame she can’t make this years BAFTAs as she would have worn the same dress.

    Fashion is just something to keep the fashion industry raking in the money otherwise we would just wear the same stuff. Wear what you feel comfortable in not what people expect you to wear…this male fashion of not tucking your shirt in, for me, just looks scruffy hence I do not do it…and I don’t have people laughing and staring at me in the street for it…I think they are staring and laughing for other reasons. I have no time for people who tell us what we should be wearing.

    As for wearing black in photographs I would love to see whether the photographer would moan at Neil Gaimen or Terry Pratchett for wearing black…for that is what they do…screw him…he should be a good enough photographer to cope with someone wearing black…he just didn’t want to have to work at his exposure.

    And Ben, if you don’t know where to put your tits in a photograph give me a call and I’ll give you a hand.

    As one well-known science writer said: Boobies…

  2. Black is always appropriate.

    Since I don’t follow much social media, nor do I read a single fashion blog I have been blissfully unaware of the whole situation. That being said, I am a complete believer in people wearing what they are comfortable in, no matter what the occasion is. My go-to outfit is a pair of black cotton slacks with side pockets and an elastic waist topped with a clean t-shirt. When I really want to dress up I have a lovely green silk dress I made from fabric my husband brought me from overseas. It suits me, is so completely timeless in style that it has served me for over twenty years. I can only imagine the sorts of comments it would receive if I was on a red carpet.

    People can be so cruel. Steve Nicol said it all better than I can, and I agree with his points.

  3. It’s not just about physical comfort though, is it. It’s also about being “suitably dressed for the occasion”. I realised some time ago that all I needed to do for the office was be clean and tidy, I didn’t need to be attractive or even particularly smart. The relief!

    Your green dress sounds lovey, HMH. It’s frightening how fast those twenty years go by, eh?

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