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The Golden Globes: What do Fancy Black Dresses Say?

Kendall Jenner

Posted in ChicagoNow, January 8, 2018

Everyone wear black. I get it. Let’s make a statement. Let’s say #TimesUp. At the Golden Globes last night, women decided to make what the Chicago Tribune called “a color-coordinated statement.” But what exactly do fancy black dresses like Kendall Jenner's say?

If this was supposed to be a fashion blackout to express support for victims of abuse and sexual harassment, I’m not clear about what a dress like this one says either.

Halle Berry

I’m in solidarity with my sisters? I’m wearing black because I’m mourning the death of old Hollywood? I choose not to be dressed in a colorful, celebratory manner? Black resonates with #MeToo and all of the brave women who have come forward to share their stories of abuse?

I get the motivation to make a statement and found some of the speeches inspiring. But what do very expensive black designer gowns on perfectly made up and coiffed women say to the rest of us sitting at home in our jeans and sweatshirts trying to survive a brutally cold winter?

Elisabeth Moss, accepted her best actress award for “The Handmaid’s Tale” in a modestly fancy black dress. I wish more people could have seen the ten-part series based on Margaret Atwood’s book of the same name. “The Handmaid’s Tale” won for best TV series, drama. But is on Hulu, a paid streaming service, making it inaccessible to many Americans who would greatly benefit from thinking about it’s frightening message about what could happen to women’s rights and democracy if we don’t take care to protect these things.

In a speech praising Atwood’s work, Moss quoted the author. “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” Moss added, “We no longer live in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. We no longer live in the gaps between the stories. We are the stories in print and we are writing the stories ourselves.” That’s a powerful message no matter what color dress she was wearing. As an aside, if you don’t get Hulu, you can check out the book The Handmaid’s Tale for free from the library.

Apparently, folks have decided Oprah should run for president in 2020 after her moving speech, given in a tasteful black dress, accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Winfrey celebrated the importance of truth and the press, defended the first amendment, and praised all of the women who have felt empowered to speak up and share their stories of abuse. Speaking of the abusers, she declared, “Their time is up.” And she concluded on a note of hope “for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.” By the way, would we call her President Oprah?

Yes, many important words were spoken at the Golden Globes, but I’m still wondering about those black dresses. In my world, you wear a fancy black dress to a wedding. The running joke with my colleagues at work was what black pants and top we would wear to the annual party. When you are in mourning, you wear a black suit or dress without worrying about your hair or makeup. I guess the black dresses were supposed to be the equivalent of the pussy hats at last year’s Women’s March. A statement. But it is the actual statements of some of the women who spoke at the Golden Globes, not what they wore, that mattered.

And bless you, Frances McDormand, for accepting your award without much make up or hairstyling. That was a powerful message to girls and women that you can be a great actor, or a great anything, and look like yourself. It’s what you say and do that really matters.

Frances McDormand, second from left, looks like a regular woman


by Laurie Levy
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