‘Madonna’s swollen face shocks at Sound for Change’; ‘Rita Ora and Jessie J kick off star-studded concert as they bare midriffs on stage in cropped tops’; ‘Jennifer Lopez silences critics as she vamps it up in thigh-high leather boots and daring fringed leotard at Sound Of Change concert’… I could go on.
If you doubt why movements like Chime for Change are needed, it was evident in the morning-after headlines about the huge Twickenham fund-raising concert the night before. Forget the message, or even the correct name, let’s just focus again on how the acts looked – although, strangely, I can’t find any mention of Jay Z’s hoodie or John Legend’s suit.
As the show’s headliner Beyonce, interviewed backstage on the Andrew Marr show, said: ‘That’s why we’re here, so we can stop waiting for greater empowerment. A lot of people just don’t think about it, don’t want to talk about it.’
Ah, ‘empowerment’, a word that causes many that read it to switch off in a Pavlovian heartbeat; ‘empowerment’ n. to invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. It’s a word men often ridicule, because we don’t understand what it’s like to have power denied us based on gender alone.
Frida Giannini, creative director of Gucci, Salma Hayek and Beyonce have co-founded Chime for Change to speak out for girls and women around the world, focusing on education, health and justice. It’s hard to disagree with its concerns or aims, especially when (like the three of them) one is the parent of girls.
So, hats off to Gucci. However, it can really make a difference first in fashion by making sure it portrays a positive image of women both through its designs, but more importantly the styling and imagery for which Giannini is responsible.
The painfully stick-thin models currently on Gucci’s website don’t say empowerment to me, but an oppressive image tyranny. Even i has been guilty of this in the past. It’s hard not to be, when they are often the only fashion images from which to choose.
That said, good for you Gucci, for putting your name behind such a positive movement. Giannini, like Hayek, spoke with admirable and infectious passion. Good for you Jennifer Lopez, who gave a great set, for becoming (according to Forbes) the most powerful woman in show-biz, and good for you Beyonce Knowles for becoming the world’s hottest music star, and a fabulous female role model.
And, watching the shiny-eyed teenage girls I took to Twickenham, and thousands like them, be visibly moved and inspired by those strong female icons and their message, it was clear the concert achieved far more than the $4million it raised for this laudable campaign.