Followers Of The Code: Is There A Powerful Defence of the The Grammy’s Dress Code?
Some dress codes are an opportunity to escape objectification, dangerous industry standards of ‘thin’ and a near pornographic obsession with a woman’s body and focus on what really counts – in the case of the Grammys… the music.
I have held myself back from comment believing that the ‘proof is in the pudding’ so to say. Since it was faxed, emailed and tweeted to every potential ‘on-camera’ attendee at the Grammy Awards, the dress code issued by CBS has been discussed, dissected and labeled. Some have called it sexist. Some claimed it would subdue an artist’s ‘creative expression’. Others claimed it was exactly what we needed after Beyonce’s thong style outfit at the Superbowl.
Dress codes exist the world over some are cultural and peer-enforced (“I wouldn’t be seen DEAD in that“) or parent-enforced (“Young lady you are NOT going out like that“). Others come with a legal backbone (“Excuse Madam, put something on or you will be coming down to the station with me“) or financial consequences (“…and that wardrobe malfunction cost the network $x million dollars in fines”). However, for some women in the world, dress codes are a matter of life and death. Being seen in public without the proper attire in Saudi Arabia and other similar countries can get you whipped at best, executed at worst.
It is this reasoning that leads many feminists to rile against the concept of dress codes. No father who mutters “I’m going to kill her” after his barely dressed teenage daughter leaves the house would be justified in following through on that threat.
As was proved on Sunday night, while the dress code was a matter of much discussion, if every star who didn’t quite (or at all) comply were taken out and summarily shot we would be lacking a few talented artists: Kelly Rowland, Katy Perry, Rihanna to name just a few. However, given the obvious abuse of dress codes, and the fact that the Grammy code was clearly written for women (I’m assuming that most men don’t want to show off their ‘puffy skin’) shouldn’t dress codes be a thing of the past?
Well, not being a member of the music industry, I think it a little unfair to comment but, in leiu I think that Adele qualifies to have, at the least, an opinion:
“I’ve never seen magazine covers and seen music videos and been like, ‘I need to look like that if I want to be a success’. Never, I don’t want to be some skinny mini with my t**s out. I really don’t want to do it.”
Adele to Anderson Cooper
She has opening talked about her body and her own personal dress code and expressed some pretty strongly worded criticisms at other singers who dress “like slappers” (English colloquialism for a girl with no class or style). Not only that, she has recognized that she is a role-model for so many women:
“I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”
Adele in US Metro
Ultimately an artist is a cultural role-model. They look not just reflect life but in turn, influence it. Young music stars like Taylor Swift, have enormous reach and perhaps CBS realized that a show like the Grammys is an opportunity. The dress code could be seen as a compliment to the power and influence that these women hold.
Just as a testament to the power that Adele can generate – check out Adele admonishing Chris Brown for refusing to acknowledge a win by his competitor. While the world may have forgotten that Mr Brown brutally beat his girlfriend so badly she had to cancel her own Grammy performance perhaps someone remembers and has the confidence to say something! (full story here)
Some dress codes ARE oppressive. They diminish or completely negate the power of women. However, some dress codes are an opportunity to escape objectification, dangerous industry standards of ‘thin’ and a near pornographic obsession with a woman’s body and focus on what really counts – in the case of the Grammys… the music.