As you probably already know, Cannes Film Festival has come under fire for denying several women entry to a screening of widely acclaimed film, ‘Carol’. Their crime? Flat shoes.
Gendered dress-codes are coming under fire more and more regularly as the Internet is making feminism more accessible to those affected by them. Viral images of posters stuck around schools with messages about the sexualisation of young people are ten-a-penny on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and beyond. What tends to be forgotten is that dress codes exist outside of school and the workplace, and time and time again they seem to be intended to target women.
When it comes to Cannes, all attendees are of course expected to be dressed formally. While for men, ‘black tie’ means a predictable tux, female formalwear comes in a multitude of options. This in itself could cause problems for people whose gender identity or expression means they do not feel comfortable adhering to strict binary constraints. Even for those whose gender does fit the assumed binary, these guidelines are frustratingly restrictive. Why is a tuxedo that would meet regulations on a man suddenly unacceptable on a woman?
Insisting that women wear heels sends out a clear message when you think about the women excluded by this policy - primarily the older and less abled. This dress code debacle confirms what no-one would dare state explicitly; that events such as these are only interested in hosting the young and the able-bodied. Cannes is only interested in the woman who are physically able to meet its dress code. Cannes is only interested in the ‘beautiful’.
As a friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, you would struggle to write a more groan-inducing irony. Whilst the screening of a lesbian romance may appear progressive, the festival’s treatment of real women is anything but.