After rocking a breast-baring $2,995 Burberry top in her recent Vanity Fair spread, Emma Watson found herself entangled in a debate on feminism. Particularly: what it is and what it isn’t. Some saw no problem with the image, while others deemed it anti-feminist. Watson, 26, responded accordingly.
“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women...” she said in a video posted by The Telegraph. “It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. It’s not — I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”
Many women were moved. According to Yahoo, the hashtag #whatfeministswear began trending soon after, thanks to Jessica Samakow, managing editor of HuffPost Voices. Samakow tweeted a photo of her bronze sneakers and jeans, saying “About @EmmaWatson, @GloriaSteinem says feminists can wear whatever the fuck we want. Show us #whatfeministswear.”
The call to action quickly took off, as women from all over began posting photos of themselves in military uniforms, bikinis, and fishnets. Basically, as instructed, they were wearing “whatever the fuck” they wanted.
Though, part of the uproar over the photo stemmed from Watson’s 2014 interview with Wonderland magazine. In the interview, Watson criticized Beyoncé's performance in a video for one of her songs. “As I was watching [the videos] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her,” as noted by The Daily Beast.
Regardless of the meaning behind this quote, it’s deeply regressive for anyone — man, woman, or gender non-conforming — to suggest there’s a tidy list of what feminists can and cannot wear.
This is particularly true in an era of pink pussy hats and feminist-identified pop stars clad in bodysuits. Frankly, what people choose to label themselves — and what they choose to wear — is no one's business but their own.