“This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended,” the “Red Sparrow” star wrote in a Facebook post
Chill out, internet.
Jennifer Lawrence swung back Wednesday at criticism and concern over her wearing a Versace gown outdoors in February alongside her bundled-up male colleagues — dismissing the outrage as “sexist,” “ridiculous” and “not feminism.”
The actress had worn the plunging, high-slit number to a London photocall Tuesday with “Red Sparrow” director Francis Lawrence and co-stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons, all wearing jackets and pants. The resulting photos spawned headlines like “This picture of Jennifer Lawrence sums up what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood” and “Please Give Jennifer Lawrence a Dang Coat”; New Statesman deputy editor Helen Lewis called the image “quietly depressing (and revealing)” in a viral tweet. “True equality means either Jennifer Lawrence getting a coat, or Jeremy Irons having to pose for a photocall in assless chaps,” she added.
Lawrence was unmoved: “This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended. That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Over- reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward.”
The controversy, Lawrence added, created “silly distractions from real issues.” “Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice,” she said. “And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!”
Among the many motivations to express moral outrage over issues like this, said Vaile Wright, a licensed psychologist at the American Psychological Association, “is that it might instill some level of social justice — that we post about things that we care about and that some sort of change gets enacted.” “But there’s also research that suggests there could be other motivations involved that are more self-serving,” she told Moneyish. “They’re a way for us to make ourselves feel moral: ‘I post, therefore I demonstrate that I’m a moral person.’” In a social media context, Wright added, “more outraged posts get a lot of publicity,” with likes and retweets providing reinforcement.
Asked whether it’s important to pick battles carefully in the #MeToo era, Wright warned of compassion fatigue — “if we get outraged about everything, there’s only so much cognitive and emotional resources that we have to be that outraged” — and actual results like people being ostracized. “There can be consequences to these moral-outrage kind of initiatives,” she said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, (but) I think there’s sometimes unintended consequences.”
And while we can appreciate the heightened awareness of women’s inequality in entertainment, American Association of University Women CEO Kim Churches told Moneyish, “we need to ask women, not just assume.” She quoted writer-activist Gloria Steinem, who upon marrying at age 66 said “feminism is about the ability to choose what’s right at each time of our lives.” “(Lawrence) is absolutely raising her own voice on saying she has choices she can make,” Churches said. “I think this is an example of people being too quick to assume because they were well-intentioned … But the fact that she was so quick to respond and debunk it and say, ‘This was my choice’ … is a very powerful example of feminism in the 21st century.”
Plus, she added, “women are allowed to be powerful in their careers, achieve a great deal and still enjoy fashion. Full stop on that.” “I’m in an executive leadership role in the organization I run — I still enjoy wearing great clothing and making choices that fit my personality and my interest in fashion,” Churches said. “That doesn’t in any way take away from a life’s work that has been dedicated to equity for women and girls and improving the educational system for all.” J-Law, she noted, has also been an outspoken advocate for equal pay in Hollywood.
“If you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody,” said Rosalind Barnett, a senior scientist at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center, citing old controversies over Michelle Obama’s bare arms, Hillary Clinton’s cleavage and Angela Merkel’s supposed dowdiness. “There’s no way to win.”
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