THE MODERN, LEADING WOMAN

BY Julian Yap Joe Nin

Women.

One of God’s best creations.

Now, they’re stepping up into power sooner than you think not only just within Hollywood but also in the world of sports.

Angel Elsa Hosk opening the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is literally how I feel every woman makes her entrance every single time.

Scroll to 1:52 and you’ll see what I mean. 

Them striking an insanely fierce pose on stage looking beyond incredible as the curtain rises- a little like how Beyoncé feels every time she performs one of her songs on stage.

Let’s start with all-American girl Reese Witherspoon, one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses.

In 2015, she was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal in Wild.

It is no secret that the Academy Awards, which is also known as the Oscars celebrates cinematic achievements at its best and is, perhaps the most prestigious award any actor can receive in his/her acting career.

For Witherspoon, it was playing June Carter in Walk The Line back in 2005, which made her an Academy Award winner.

Most would know Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde as well as in romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama.

Although, this is not why I brought up Reese Witherspoon’s name.

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I brought up her name to talk about the #AskHerMore campaign, which Witherspoon herself was wildly enthusiastic about on the 2015 Oscars red carpet.

There is no doubt that the Oscars is the Super Bowl of fashion – the red carpet itself is a major spectacle with all the biggest names in Hollywood arriving in haute couture designed by the world’s leading fashion designers.

But, Witherspoon had something different to say that she should be commended for.

“This is a movement to say that we’re more than just our dresses,” she said on the red carpet talking to Robin Roberts. “It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood or in any industry.” 

I couldn’t 100 percent agree more with what she just said.

 

“Who are you wearing?” is a question you would still see men getting asked, but very rarely – they are asked so many more interesting questions, without any emphasis on their ‘clothing’ or what they are ‘carrying’.

However, it’s a whole another story when it comes to women.

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It almost feels like that is the only question that journalists and reporters are very much interested in asking the celebrities on the red carpet, particularly women.

It is as if that when it comes to a woman, the only thing that matters is their appearance in terms of how fabulous they look and whether they have made the right choice rather than celebrating what they have truly accomplished.

Seriously, it is very condescending for a woman to often, only be asked that question.

There is no doubt that there needs to be a deep and profound appreciation shown towards the designers and artisans who have spent countless number of hours making sure that everything looks picture perfect and their name gets the attention it needs on the red carpet for the right reasons.

But, that should not be the only thing to tell.

Women like men are so much more than just what they are wearing. They should not be reduced to just their custom-made dresses or bespoke suits, which only comes off like their accomplishments are being devalued and put aside.

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Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o wearing Prada at the 2014 Oscars red carpet // Carpet

#AskHerMore is a great social media campaign, which prompts audiences around the world on Twitter to send suggested questions to reporters, in real-time, to spark a much deeper, intellectual conversation in front of a televised national and worldwide audience.

Like many A-list celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Aniston and Julianne Moore, Witherspoon was ALL for this campaign- she herself took to her own personal Instagram account, posting about #AskHerMore and even, provided a list of sample questions that she hopes that reporters would ask.

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#AskHerMore on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram account // Instagram

Kudos for standing up on behalf of all the women and not just actresses within Hollywood, Reese.

It is about time that the media takes a good, hard look at themselves and recognise that women work incredibly hard to get to where they are today and should not be just defined by their beauty and sexuality but their BRAINS.

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Academy Award winner Emma Stone at this year’s Oscars red carpet // InStyle

Just to make myself clear.

It is not wrong at all to ask about couture fashion on the red carpet, because after all, the nature of the red carpet celebrates glamour and style.

In fact, it is a great conversation opener.

But, there needs to be more.

The media needs to realise that audiences around the world are much more interested in picking their brains about opinion questions being asked of them, causes they are championing or even, messages that are near and dear to their heart that they would like to promote.

Same thing when it comes to sports, especially female athletes.

Everyone knows who the legendary Serena Williams is.

You can read more about the success of Williams in one of my previous blog posts, here.

Female athleticism needs to be respected and revered in terms of how they perform more than how they look.

What makes Williams one of the greatest athletes of all time?

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Serena Williams at the 2016 Wimbledon // The New Yorker

Certainly, not how she looks but how she performs on the court.

Williams has a room full of trophy cases to prove that she may just be the very best at what she does.

But, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Williams is often called an ‘ape’ or a ‘gorilla’ across social media.

Many have called out her deep brown skin, her cheekbones, her muscular physique.

Some have even went as far as to questioning whether she was born a ‘man’ at birth or whether she came by her athleticism naturally.

There’s more. Way worse.

In 2012, one of Williams’ fellow competitor Caroline Wozniacki made fun of her by impersonating her – she strutted around the court, stuffed her pants and top whilst playing against Maria Sharapova at Roger Federer’s ‘Federer Tour’ in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

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Caroline Wozniacki imitating Serena Williams at the Federer Tour // NY Daily News

What were her intentions of doing that? What was she trying to accomplish?

Playing to the crowd? Trying to distract her opponent Sharapova?

Ultimately, she lost the match to Sharapova.

Her actions were just plain rude and disrespectful.

Why does the attractiveness of the female body matter so much in a sport?

Before anyone says it, sex appeal is not supposed to matter in sports.

But, it DOES.

Why’d do think so many love tuning into the Olympics to watch men’s sports like swimming, diving, beach volleyball or even water polo?

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure all that out.

Shirtless men – SEX SELLS especially on television.

You think that being tall, white and handsome with a banging body does not enhance Tom Brady’s or even David Beckham’s appeal?

Of course, it does. You’d be silly not to think that.

It has made them sex symbols and nonetheless, has definitely played or still plays a part in making them big success stories that they are today.

It is just a little different when it comes to women in sports.

When women triumph in a sport, especially when they win, they are derided as something other than ‘women’.

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Cate Blanchett // The Representation Project

That has to stop.

You would never ever see ‘attractiveness’ being used as a criterion to determine the world’s highest paid male athletes nor read articles where male athletes are discussing and comparing the physiques of other competitors or even hear statements made by male athletes critiquing their competitor’s style of play.

All this would just be disrespectful and distasteful.

But, it’s alright for women to endure such comments and actions.

Such an embarrassment.

It seems like in this world that we live in now, women are forced to make a choice – either sacrifice their strength and livelihood for them to be considered a ‘woman’ or sacrifice the public perception of the appropriation of what it takes to be a woman for being ‘strong’.

Such a double standard, which is disgraceful and shameful towards women.

We should respect both male and female athletes for their craft – their skill, technique, form and mindset.

I talk about this in my very first blog post on The Game Changer, ‘The Blurred Line’.

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Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon // Heavy

Maria Sharapova is 6’2”, blond, and a very attractive woman – she was born this way, she did not ask for this.

Her good looks is just another added advantage for her.

At the end of the day, she is still one of the many greats in tennis and like Williams, she should be acknowledged and respected for her craft rather than how she looks.

With regards to women, we should never EVER subject them to having them choose between being ‘strong’ and being a ‘woman’.

They can be both.

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Serena Williams at the 2015 Wimbledon // Think Progress

Serena Williams is a prime example of someone who should be respected as both a ‘strong woman’ and an ‘athlete’, particularly within the sport of tennis.

She is a living legend.

End of story.

Major props to J.K. Rowling for shutting down trolls on the internet who criticised Williams on Twitter.

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J.K. Rowling on Twitter // Twitter

Cheers.

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