Cannes Film Festival: Sexist or Just Professional?

Cannes Film Festival

With the recent hype over the Cannes Film Festival’s high heels only regulation on women’s outfits, many are asking the question is this a sexist move or just a professional one? High heels on women are considered to be very feminist, but in a world were women are expressing themselves in many other ways than the traditional wearing of high heels, turning away women who are not wearing heels is not normal. In a professional sense, high heels on women have always represented an elegant and business type of look. Cannes Film Festival does have the right to ask attendees to represent them in the best way. However, is this move professional or is it sexist?

According to sources, the high-heels only regulation that the Cannes Film Festival was put in place is for the red carpet. As the traditional walk down the red carpet is somewhat of a special event, it may be appropriate for the film festival to ask women to look their best. However, other sources are claiming that several women were even turned away from screenings for wearing flat shoes. Many of these claims were made on social media.

Women and men are both angry at the fact that some women were denied opportunity to see a screening at the Cannes Film Festival for “wearing the wrong shoes,” especially as many of them stated that they have medical conditions that will not allow them to wear heels or be comfortable wearing heels. Eventually some of these women who could prove the inability to wear heels were let in, but this did not happen before people began calling the Cannes Film Festival sexist.

The director of the festival, however, said that the regulations are black tie, black shoes for men and evening dress and “appropriate shoes” for women. He said that those regulations have always been in effect for those who attend the gala but that there was no requirement on heel height. However, sources state that the festival confirmed that women who attend the Cannes Film Festival are required to wear heels.

Whether wearing high heels is a strict regulation for women, or not, it is obvious that the festival is causing quite the uproar over how they expect attendees to dress. Many argue that the dress code for women is not sexist, as they also require a dress code for men, however in a larger sense the dress code for women is very sexist as it requires women to match a certain feminist role.

Irony to the controversy over women wearing high heels at the Cannes Film Festival also comes at the fact that the premiere, Carol, is a lesbian drama. Cate Blanchett and Selma Hayek have greatly spoken out against the festival. Some men have even stated that they are going to wear high heels to their premieres in order to protest.

Though director Thierry Fremaux states that the dress code of the Cannes Film Festival is just professional, stars are lashing out stating that it is sexist. Though the festival has had the same dress code for years, stars are beginning to fight back against the feminist belief that women should wear evening gowns and high heels in order to look elegant. As stars urge women to wear flats to film festivals, from now on, Cannes Film Festival may be looking at revising their dress code, after all of the controversy that has taken place since Sunday night’s premiere.

Opinion by Crystal Boulware


TIME: Cannes Film Festival Steps Into Controversy Over High Heels-Only Policy
BBC: Cannes Film Festival ‘turns away women in flat shoes’
Sydney Morning Herald: Cannes Film Festival’s ‘high-heels only’ red carpet policy draws ire from stars

Photo Courtesy of Jeff’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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