In the course of the #MeToo debate there were increasing calls for equal rights, but I sorely missed one aspect: the continuing pressure on women still to be way too skinny, eternally young and flawless. As actresses, we like to think of ourselves as modern feminist women, but it seems to be expected we leave the feminism at home before stepping on the red carpet. Equal rights still hasn’t reached red carpets. On the contrary: The prevalent image of women (and men) at festival openings, premieres and award ceremonies still looks like something from the 1950s.
Women squeeze into tight skirts, show cleavage and balance around on high heels while men try hard to appear casually masculine while displaying their workout results.But it’s still way easier for men. If you’ve ever worn a skimpy dress and heels to one event and a suit and sneakers to another, you’ll know the difference.
Women push themselves into things that are neither comfortable nor convenient. Things we think we have to do in order to please some generic, invisible spectator. And that spectator still happens to be a man.
We are still letting the male gaze define what’s attractive.
But come on – aren’t we past all that by now? All we have to do is show it. Show it to ourselves, to each other, and to all those setting their standards of beauty by what is shown on the red carpets of the world.
What makes a woman attractive is what she does, not what can be done to her. We define ourselves by the paths we choose, not by being a statue to be put on a shelf.
We’re artists, not dolls.
This is not a call to cover up or go in rags. Quite the opposite: I love fashion. I love beautiful women, I love beautiful men, I love myself when I’m beautiful. This is a call to let your own beauty shine, and not lock it in a cage of conventions and imaginary rules.
But this is only possible if we widen the scope of what counts as beautiful. Do we really feel well on high heels? Does a woman always need to wear make up? And is there really only one type of guy we want to be attracted to in movies?
If an actress wants to watch awesome films and have interesting conversations and can’t be bothered with all the styling, that should be just as glamorous as being seen at three different parties in three different outfits. Maybe even more so.
All the women I talked to about this initiative went: “This is long overdue!” The men reacted in more diverse ways. Some, like my brother Dietrich or the Lass brothers immediately got the point. Others, directors among them, said: “But why don’t you just wear something else, if it’s bothering you?”
Sure, no problem. I could just be crazy Anna, the one who’s always a bit different. Just my personal little quirk.
But I’m not interested in personal quirks, I’m interested in the cultural political dimensions of this. I’m interested in what counts as attractive in a woman (and in a man). And this doesn’t concern only me, it concerns my friends and colleagues as well. It concerns a doctor in Amsterdam as much as a teenager in Warsaw. It concerns all of us women – and, by extension, men.
From this Berlin Film Festival on, we’ll widening the range of what’s “allowed” to be worn on a red carpet. We’ll widen it in every and any direction. We’ll overstate and understate. We’re delighted about everybody who joins in, uses the hashtag and decides for themselves what makes them beautiful. And we’re going to have fun, starting now – and not stopping anytime soon.
Reclaim definition. We’re many, we’re clever, and we’re #nobodysdoll.
P.s. This was written last November, in a rush and with fury. Now, three months and many discussions later, I feel one more thing is important: This is not about excluding other women. We should reach out to each other, not point our fingers at each other. Too much of the latter has been done and is still being done. This is an invitation to everybody to take the freedoms lying right before us. This is a request for more, for other, for inclusion. It is not about blaming or shaming others.