When fashion becomes law

For years now, women have been waging a silent battle against the supposed idea of feminine perfection. And yet in film festivals, galas, fashion gatherings the sight is pretty much the same. Beautiful women — actresses, models, filmmakers — in their designer gowns and high heels, parading across the red carpet, stopping only for the shutterbugs. And at an event like Cannes which is perhaps as much about fashion as it is about the films being screened, the organisers were literally caught on the wrong foot as a few women — one of them an amputee — were denied entry to the film festival as they weren’t wearing high heels.

In 2014, British actress Emma Thompson had walked up to the Golden Globes stage with her heels in one hand, and a glass of martini in another. And this year actress Tina Fey said at the Globes, “Steve Carell’s Foxcatcher look took two hours to put on, including his hair styling and makeup. Just for comparison, it took me three hours today to prepare for my role as human woman.”

The outrage on the part of such veterans makes one wonder, what is the message being sent out at such a prestigious event, and is it doing anyone, any good? Fashion designer and former Mrs India Shilpa Reddy feels that it is sheer torture to impose such restrictions. “At events like these, where the whole world is watching you — there is a lot of scope for attendees to experiment with their attire and looks, but sadly that is not allowed.

“Obviously heels accentuate your posture, and that’s why they are preferred on the runway — to make a garment more appealing. But to force someone to wear shoes which are not only uncomfortable but can also cause health hazards — it’s not even silly, it is madness,” she says. City model Alice Rosario adds, “I find heels extremely agonising, and if I had it my way, I would never wear them. Even if you look back in history, both men and women wore heels. And if the former can do away with them, why can’t we?”

Former Miss India Parvathy Omanakuttan is outraged at the very idea as she thinks that such choices should be left completely to the woman. “I think it is ridiculous that an event of such progressive stature should enforce such a policy —  especially when it is supposed to promote women and fashion equality. What is fashion, if one can’t be comfortable in what one is wearing in the first place?” she asks.

Now, with the festival authorities apologising, one can only hope that we are headed in the right direction and things eventually change, for the better.

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