Emma Watson is the definition of a modern feminist. The 26-year-old actress has been a vocal supporter of gender equality for years. Becoming a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, has provided her with a broader platform to advance women’s rights around the world. For years, she’s been involved in promoting education for girls and spending time in Bangladesh and Zambia to support humanitarian causes. More recently, she has been involved in the launch of the “He for She” campaign that furthers gender equality as a human right.
Despite how clearly her actions align with her stated values, Watson has received massive backlash for a revealing photo in Vanity Fair. With her remake of “Beauty and the Beast” coming out this weekend, the actress posed for a shoot in a beautiful white crocheted Burberry top.
She was accused of being hypocritical by British radio commentator Julia Hartley-Brewer who tweeted, “Feminism, feminism…gender wage gap…why oh why am I not taken seriously…feminism…oh, and here are my [t*ts].” An outpouring of heated responses on social media prompted Hartley-Brewer to defend her original statement saying that Watson “complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.”
Why does it even matter? It was a personal decision on Watson’s part. Good for her. A wardrobe choice does not define a person or make their beliefs less valid. While there doesn’t have to be one perfect definition of a feminist, it is critical to have mutual respect among women. As individuals, we have the right to make our own choices about how we want to live our lives. That doesn’t make someone else’s choice less valid, it just means it might not work for us.
Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé, and a stay-at-home mother can all be feminists in their own ways. We all have the freedom to decide for ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in judgement about the right or wrong way to advocate for equality, women need to support each other. Only then can we make true progress.