We were having a lovely Easter Sunday: the end of Lent allowing chocolate for breakfast, a Spring stroll through Lambourn, even a seasonal Michael (googles spelling) McIntyre show compiling performances from comedians, magicians and musicians to watch whilst we scoffed our remaining Mini Eggs.
One of the musical interludes came from Sia (who, spoiler alert, I love).The 6 studio albumed sensation hit the stage with an oversized wig that hid her face so viewers could do nothing but listen to her Grammy nominated vocals. In short, she could only be judged by the music. Isn’t that what artists like Beyoncé constantly pester us do to? Avoid distractions, ignore obstructions, direct your focus on the most important factor: the music. I thought society shared this opinion (and let’s be honest, it’s the only thing most of us will ever share with Beyoncé)…
until now. Because, the second Sia made it all about the music, my sofa companions (aka family I’ve temporarily disassociated from) exclaimed: “WTF is that thing on her head?” and “She can’t be that ugly” and “Well, I don’t see the point in it.” It was a noise almost as appalling as the frog chorus, as it was unexpected- what happened to our Beyoncé moment, guys?
Sure enough, the next performer on the show was the very talented Ella Henderson who appeared face showing, eyes sparkling and a voice that skipped through a daisy meadow. It’s all about the music, right? “Her makeup’s dreadful.” “She needs a better stylist!” “I never knew she was so…curvy?” Apparently not. The same people that had criticized Sia for covering her face began attacking Ella Henderson (who may I add is stunning) for showing hers. So this is the norm now? We passionately critique the image of these women but then when they give up and stick a box over their heads we wonder blindly why they have such low self-esteem? Yep, makes sense. Said no one. Ever.
What makes matters even more frustrating was no one from my Sofa Squad ever commented on the appearance of the presenter, Michael (googles spelling again) McIntyre, as if his job was simply to be funny. He wasn’t expected to look like David Beckham’s H&M adverts as that’s not what he’s there for. It was the same for that American magician guy. And Bill Bailey. To be honest, every man on the programme (barring Eddie Izzard. The sofa was a microcosm of society when, say, 90% of it couldn’t get over the fact he was wearing nail varnish- reasons we need feminism #109.) remained undamaged by the vocal machetes of the front room. So why can’t we treat women with the same respect? Why can’t it be: ‘That Gaga, she’s very creative, very ambitious, a very engaging performer,’ opposed to ‘Nice face, big tits, 7 out of 10 would view again. In yoga pants.’
We expect women to supply us with sufficient eye candy and when they fail to do so (in Sia-esque wig style) we feel offended- deprived, even. How dare you not let me score your nose to forehead ratio! What am I supposed to do now? Actually listen to you sing?
YES! Novel idea I know.
So what if you can’t see her? Maybe if people like my sofa sharers hadn’t been so unnecessarily judgemental in the first place, we wouldn’t be forcing women to alter their appearance in fear of criticism. Women who’ve been made to feel so detached from their bodies that they hide their faces in order to prevent further invasion. Women we pressure into fulfilling unreasonably high expectations- expectations that have no true relevance to their jobs, expectations that men in the same industries aren’t forced to live up to.
So Teamales, I say, let the presenters present, let the singers sing and let us judge them on nothing other than how well they complete the task- not how good they look doing it.