No Heels, No Entry! Life for women at film festivals. [Qmunicate]

Cannes You Believe It?

It almost feels superfluous to report upon the double standards within the film industry. Nonetheless, the news that women at Cannes have been denied access to events for the faux pas of wearing flat shoes has gotten people talking.

Several women have been denied entry after having the nerve to arrive at film screenings with their feet flattened firmly to the red carpets. Film producer Valeria Richter has reported being turned away for failure to wear ‘appropriate shoes’ despite having her left foot amputated: it sounds like an ironic joke, but seemingly event managers didn’t understand the laughter. Celebrity guests including Emily Blunt, Cara Delevingne and Natalie Portman have voiced their bewilderment, and organisers of the festival have been quick to distance themselves from the bizarre dress code.

Perhaps all this is unsurprising considering the mainstream facade of the festival. Reports of Kendall Jenner’s black Azzedine Alaïa two piece garnered more coverage than the reverberating messages about climate change. Image is paramount to the discourse of the festival; politics is secondary. And, when it comes to image, women tend to garner the harshest of scrutiny.

Ladies, we all know the feeling: you bend your legs to try and ease the weight on your toes, you take smaller steps to quicken the period of sharp pain to your ankles, you hobble, you stumble, you might even resort to barefoot walking if it all becomes too much – high heels are a tricky business. But, before I’m branded an angry, man-hating, croc-wearing tumblr feminist, I should probably say that, for what it’s worth, I actually quite like heels. I own heels. I wear heels. I appreciate the irony that, while writing this article, I have an Asos tab open on my computer with a selection of heeled sandals I’m considering buying. Feminism is about choice. This is not a condemnation of the shoe itself, rather a raised eyebrow (if you will) towards a dress code which insists women make themselves artificially taller for the activity of watching films.

There is a changing tide towards the expectations of women in film: the #AskHerMore campaign backed by Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Moss showing the middle finger to E!’s ‘Mani Cam’ and Tina Fey’s Golden Globes joke: “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”. Cara Delevingne said the controversy at Cannes made her want to wear flat shoes, Emily Blunt said we should all ditch heels and director Denis Villeneuve said that he and actor Benicio Del Toro would don high heels as protest. Personally, I’d like to call for a Converse trend at next year’s Oscars.

 

This article was originally published in Qmunicate magazine

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