With Beauty and the Beast now in theaters, Emma Watson has been in the news a lot lately; however, it’s not just because of her upcoming role as Belle. Watson was recently featured in Vanity Fair in an outfit that many deemed “nearly topless.” She was criticized for her display of sexuality, with people going as far as to say that it takes away from her feminism. The situation with Emma Watson reveals how far society is from truly understanding feminism.
Since she finished at Brown University, Emma Watson has been an advocate for gender equality. She helped launch the HeForShe campaign back in 2014. While the organization itself may present flaws, Watson has been a positive presence in the media, working to create better representation and more opportunities for women. In fact, when making Beauty and the Beast, Watson insisted that Belle have a job in the movie. This new version of Beauty and the Beast features Belle as an inventor alongside her father which was an effort at creating a more well rounded character. I think Watson’s representation of Belle as an inventor is an important image for young girls to see. Watson’s recent photoshoot with Vanity Fair doesn’t make her advocacy or her feminism any less important.
(It should be noted that despite the positive changes that the movie made in terms of the character of Belle, this doesn’t take away from the anti-feminist tones at the basis of the story. Watson has been criticized for taking the role because of the way that Belle exhibits Stockholm Syndrome. Whatever her reasoning, it’s important to be conscious of all of the messages the movie may be sending when going to see it.)
The Judgment Emma Watson has Faced is Because of Society’s Lack of Understanding of Feminism
Despite the positive image that Watson portrays in the media, she was still judged harshly for her Vanity Fair photoshoot; it’s these negative comments about her appearance that show the toxic way that society still pits women against women, the way that society promotes the idea that feminism and sexuality can’t go together. Feminism isn’t about the way someone dresses or tearing down women because of what they wear, it’s about acceptance. Feminism, at its core, is about promoting equality between the privileged and the marginalized, something Emma Watson is actively trying to do. And she doesn’t understand what her breasts have to do with it either.
In a day and age where women are being actively degraded by the person who holds the highest office in the United States, it’s important that we support and uplift each other rather than constantly tear each other down. There’s power in solidarity; what other women are wearing should be the least of our worries.