Why Amal Clooney’s Yellow Dress Is The Wake Up Call We All Needed

Why Amal Clooney’s Yellow Dress

Is The Wake Up Call We All Needed

Photo: Independent

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It’s been an interesting few months for the media. A rejuvenation of sorts has taken place and since Mr. Trump’s election, support for the media and its freedom of expression has grown inexorably.

Only where does that support stop?

Perhaps when, instead of squealing adulation for a powerful speech made to the U.N about ISIS genocide, they focus primarily on Amal Clooney’s baby bump and Prada dress.

If the media coverage of Amal Clooney’s speech at the U.N has told us anything, it’s that we never learn, and the most important question now is will we?

And while I wish it was just tabloids that got involved in the outfit critiquing and heel commentary, the fact is, it wasn’t. It was credible news sources, estimable outlets and that’s the very reason why the commentary is so crushing.

I recently attended a U.N Women’s event with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)  addressing the #freebeingme campaign propelled in combination with the Dove Self-Esteem Project. The campaign has been running since 2014 and is centred around the need to reclaim the woman’s body image in the public eye.

‘The Image Myth’ has plagued women for as long as the press has been in existence. Why? Because to sell papers and magazines, the press have utilized every means necessary to create unattainable beauty standards so copies will sell. Because human condition rules that we always want what we cannot have. It’s a human failing – a flaw in our make up. It’s how greed came to define Shakespeare’s oeuvre and how both world wars began. The media play on this need to aspire – to dream, and thus manifests the image myth, whereby the women and men you see in publications are not actually real.

They are fictitious beings, transformed by lighting, makeup, sculpting, and since 1988, the great power of Photoshop. They are unrealistic portrayals of humanity, and of course therein lies the problem. If that which you seek to replicate is unreal, your goals are consequently unreachable, and you will forever be disappointing yourself by not reaching them. 

And until recently, the problem with all of this has gone veritably unnoticed and unrecognized. Nobody appears to care, because, apparently, it hasn’t done much harm. What women are doing isn’t as important as how they look – right? 

Wrong.

The underlying problem here is that no matter what we do, it’s how we look that defines us, still, as women in the 21st century. Here of course, it was motherhood that most came to define Clooney, which in itself is problematic because if we are only ever to be considered as potential mothers or wives, women will never be elevated to those same positions men achieve daily throughout the world. To be seen through the lens of the mother or caregiver only is detrimental to the future empowerment and recognition of women on the global stage. If we’re only ever seen as pretty, homely, petite – we lose the potential to be serious, intelligent and informed. 

Representing Nadia Murad, an IS survivor, Clooney delivered an impassioned and eloquent speech about the U.N and Iraq’s neglecting to bring to court the terrorists that have indeed been tearing apart the lives of millions of families for years now. Not one has stood trial for international war crimes. And yet, this abhorrent fact seemed to slip the minds of those who coined headlines such as “Amal Clooney Puts Her Growing Baby Bump On Display In Chic Yellow Dress For U.N. Speech” or “Wearing 4.5inch heels at 6 months pregnant… Is that wise Amal?”

“Mass graves in Iraq lie unprotected,” Clooney said in her address to the U.N, “Witnesses are fleeing, and not one ISIS militant has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world.”

Dove, together with the #freebeingme campaign collated results from a survey done in 13 countries throughout the globe and found that over half the women in the entire world have body image issues. 

Why are these two events connected? Because until we start recognizing women for the real work they’re doing, not the fake portrayals of people on the internet or in magazines lounging around on fake holidays – women will never be self-assured or confident enough to do anything else. What we should have been talking about the other day was Amal’s speech; her client, her words and the corrosive inaction of the U.N. Instead I am painfully aware of the designer of her dress and the height of her slick black heels.

I do not want to be aware of these insignificant details. I do not care for how far along she is in her pregnancy – if she’s showing a bump or not, because frankly, that is not what she was there for nor what she would have hoped people would be reporting on.

How do we fix it?

By reporting what matters; by fixing the image of the female in the public perspective; by rectifying the mistakes of those writers, advertizers, editors before us.

We are no longer household objects – we work, we build, we lead, we talk. 

And what we have to say, is important.

Amy Corcoran

Amy is an Irish writer, avid foodie and feminist with an insatiable appetite for novels and empowering women's writing. She has enjoyed calling Dublin, Paris and now New York her home.

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