Women’s issues and the red carpet

Image from http://zap2it.com
Image from http://zap2it.com

Amber Rose and Blac Chyna at the VMAs

By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor

Fashion has always been a huge platform for protest. Despite its issues (eating disorders, objectification, manufacturing controversies, etc.), the industry does promote a lot of free thought and self-expression. I mean, how can you argue with looking fantastic and standing up for what you believe in, right? This sentiment was epitomized during this year’s broadcast of the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), when media darlings Amber Rose and Blac Chyna decided to use their bodies as billboards for a cause greater than themselves—bringing attention to slut-shaming and cyberbullying.

One of the greatest things about our generation and subsequent ones is that we have this incredible outlet and instructional tool: the Internet. We can learn about things or communicate with people all at the touch of a button, and as consumers we embrace this whole-heartedly—even going as far as to make the Internet more readily accessible with the advent of Wi-Fi, data plans, and smartphones. Nothing is out of reach.

Unfortunately what this has done is create an entire society where anonymity justifies ignorance of common human decency. I cannot remember the last time a stranger wandered up to me and told me I was a whore, but I can remember the last time it happened online, and it was not that long ago. Somehow, in the development of the Internet community it became okay to shame, judge, insult, and threaten other people because they were just names or photos on a screen, and not actual people. Conversely, it also became okay to do all those things because behind a keyboard—there is a sense of anonymity that effectively makes you not an actual person. You become that name or avatar image, so you therefore do not have to take personal responsibility for what you put out into the world. I am not trying to lecture people on their behaviour online, but contemplating community toxicity on the Internet is probably something worth doing, considering it plays such a huge role in our daily lives.

In order to bring attention to this, Amber Rose and Blac Chyna, urban models and exes of rappers Wiz Khalifa and Tyga, decided to don two very distinctive outfits for their red carpet appearance.

The two women each wore a well-tailored, beige outfit. Amber Rose wore a jumpsuit while Blac Chyna wore an A-line gown with a deep-V neckline. What made the outfits so eye-catching was that each was painted with words and derogatory terms that the women found in their Instagram comments. Insults such as “gold digger” referencing both women’s relationships with wealthy men, and “stripper” (both have a history as exotic dancers) were painted alongside far more standard comments for women on the Internet, such as “slut,” “whore,” and the ever lovely “bitch.”

When asked about their choice in fashion and the derogatory language on the red carpet, Blac Chyna replied “We’re just trying to embrace it,” a sentiment that Amber Rose seems to share in her continual online promotion of women’s rights and slut-shaming activism in the Los Angeles area.

Probably the most disturbing thing of all was the pair’s absence from the VMAs television broadcast, despite the fact they were actually interviewed by red carpet host Kelly Osbourne. One could say that it is due to the offensive language used on the outfits, but the same words and derogatory terms were used throughout the awards show with no repercussions (they weren’t even edited or bleeped out in subsequent re-broadcasts of the show). Presenters and the show’s host, Miley Cyrus, frequently used words such as “whore” and “slut” for comedic effect, however, Amber Rose and Blac Chyna were never shown on camera. Critics of people’s questioning of the apparent censorship have claimed that the two’s absence is due to relevancy. Amber Rose and Blac Chyna are simply exes of musicians and are therefore not relevant to the pop culture-centric show. I assume that these advocates are unaware that both Amber Rose and Blac Chyna have an upcoming reality show that will premiere on MTV, yet potential screen time was instead devoted to people like Amanda Steele, a YouTube beauty guru who was there to promote CoverGirl Cosmetics.

Given that, I think the message MTV is sending is pretty obvious. Dehumanizing language in regard to women is fine, but only when it’s funny.