Snark Sells

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A few weeks ago, one of the major local TV networks asked me to contribute to post-Golden-Globes red carpet commentary. It was an amazing opportunity that would’ve put me in front of an audience I don’t normally reach. Even folks who don’t care much about fashion often take an interest in awards season finery. And, of course, it would’ve been great for the ol’ resume.

None of the TV stations in town are particularly acid or negative, but knowing what I know about expectations for red carpet recaps, I responded with some parameters. In addition to highlighting looks from some of the women of color and women of size in attendance, I insisted on a positive spin. “I don’t do bodysnarking and don’t want to talk about ‘disasters’ or focus on negatives. I could offer some constructive feedback, but no ‘worst dressed list.’ I would want the segment to focus on the best looks of the night and why they worked,” I told the producer.

I was disappointed when they declined to bring me on. But not surprised.

Snark sells, ya see. In this day and age, liking something or someone makes you dull and ignorable. Focusing on positives is considered a cop-out, and failing to point out flaws, errors, and missteps makes you appear less expert. Focusing on what didn’t work, fit-wise, through a lens of detached analysis hits closer to the mark, though this type of commentary is incredibly rare on major news outlets. But hating something or someone? Criticizing every minute detail? Honing in on the ill-fitting, the unflattering, the less-than-perfect and pointing and shaking your head and smiling knowingly? THAT is what the media wants. THAT makes you engaging, interesting, a person of note. Even if what you’re saying is ill-informed or irrelevant, as long as it’s scathing it’s golden.

And I won’t do it. I won’t condone it and I certainly won’t participate in it. We need a world with less judgment in it, not more. I am not saying this to pat myself on the back or peer down my nose from my moral high-horse. I am saying this because I think many people believe there’s no harm in saying nasty things about celebs and their style choices since, after all, they have paid stylists and armies of beauty workers at their disposal. But by directing this kind of haughty criticism at famous people – most often famous women, of course – we normalize the behavior. We strip those women of their humanity, judge them from afar, and gloat in our certainty that we’d never have made such poor choices. And once we’ve decided it’s harmless to criticize the choices of total strangers, it becomes that much easier to direct that same scrutiny at coworkers, peers, even friends. It’s quite the slippery slope. And I feel in my bones that dishing disdain at celebrities makes it more socially acceptable to throw that same disdain at each other.

Snark sells and it is hard to resist because putting someone else down – especially someone rich and famous and beautiful – can create a momentary rush of pleasure. But what is gained in the long run? A culture that continues to judge women on their appearances and fashion choices above all else. A culture that teaches its daughters to laugh at their peers and point and snicker and shame and alienate. A culture that pits women against each other as if there is a limited amount of beauty, success, or talent in the world and someone else’s overwhelming good fortune makes it less likely that you’ll get some for yourself.

I know it can feel hard to resist at times, but I beg of you: Don’t add your voice to the chorus of put-downs. Don’t encourage your girlfriends to dissect celeb blunders and laugh at their missteps. Do you best to resist judging and criticizing your fellow women, famous or otherwise. As harmless as it may feel in the moment, this behavior encourages a form of woman-on-woman hate that benefits no one.

Snark sells. But you don’t have to buy it.

Image via Gradeclothing

This article first appeared on the Huffington Post

  • Rija

    Way to go! I hope many read your words and really try to put it into practice. I will do my best to do so.

  • http://ejegmama.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    I’m sorry you didn’t get to do the show. I really wish there was a show that did red carpet outfits without all the nastiness. I love to see all the dresses but often watch fashion shows with the volume off bc I just can’t stand how mean they can be.

  • A.B.

    Yes, thank you for posting this. With awards season (and I hope in general), the most I will go regarding the fashions is “I didn’t like it.” It puts no judgement on them and offers no snark to the situation. I think it’s a fairly respectful way to offer my opinion on it as well.

    I will dare any of the fashion types to say a negative, snarky think about Lupita Nyong’o. She’s stunning and I look forward to seeing what she wears at the Oscars.

  • http://neverslacktide.com Joanna

    Kudos to you for knowing what you’re about and sticking to your principles! Your lovely attitude is certainly something people can look up to and while it stinks that “success” is sometimes tied to giving the masses what they want, you can know that whatever level of fame and recognition you reach will be because you’re respected and admired and were true to yourself.

  • San

    I would have liked to watch or read your comments on the dresses – according to your conditions.

    Can I suggest you make a post sometime about festive wear? When I look at the dresses above I find it impossible to say what would suit me (tall, slim, strong bone structure, broad shoulders).

    • Susan In Boston

      I agree with you, San. I’d enjoy reading Sally’s snark-free evaluation of one of the red carpet parades. So Sal, how about the Oscars?

  • Dee

    Amen, Sister! I could not agree more. I recently made a comment to an online magazine about how incredibly and unnecessarily MEAN their critiques were of the street fashions they featured in a particular article. Of course, my comment was deleted immediately. One thing I found interesting was that several of the outfits they were praising were just as whack as the ones they were criticizing. I applaud you for standing your moral ground.

  • jen

    There are a few levels…something like Fashion Police is pretty awful, but I really like the Go Fug Yourself model – they don’t bodysnark or anything like that, it’s just completely about the clothes and how people do or don’t work with what they have.

    • KJ

      I disagree — the writers themselves may shy away from commenting on people’s figures, but the comments are full of criticism and nasty comments about faces, body parts, everything. I used to like that site but stay away from other gossip sites including this one now. I love looking at the pics, but the commentary leaves me with a yucky taste in my mouth.

    • Becky

      I don’t want to live in a world without the Fug Girls. Their coverage of celebrity fashion, TV shows, and sports is full of so much enthusiasm and fun. I feel like they really get how ridiculous everything is, and they kid because they love.

      • Annabeth

        I’d like to live in a world without the Fug Girls, or at any rate without the hate-filled community of bashers and snarkers they created and encourage.

      • KateS

        I agree, Becky! I think they and the commenters there enjoy looking at celebrity fashion without tearing other people down. Negative body commentary happens sometimes, but is called out when it occurs, by other posters and the Fug Girls alike. I like that they have fun with what they do.

  • Becky

    Can I ask where you draw the line between sincere criticism that happens to be negative, and snark? And do you think there’s a time and place for negative criticism of celebrity fashion?

    (I tend to think that many celebrities who wear wacky things are trolling us, but I realize I may be in the minority there.)

    • http://www.janelmessenger.com Janel M

      For me, negative criticism is acceptable if it’s in the context of a useful place, not simply nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. “Hey those proportions are off. Next time it would be great to see her try XYZ instead.” Snark is “That dress made her look like a beached whale with glitter over her a$$.” One is thoughtful, the other is simply rude. A combination of the two is equally rude.

      As someone who teaches fashion design, I’m ok with analyzing why something does or doesn’t work. Discussing pros and cons is how my students learn. Making nasty comments for the sake of nasty is not ok.

    • http://www.janelmessenger.com Janel M

      I’m sorry to hear they didn’t want you, but I concur! Awesome thoughts. I avoid fashion snarkfests for that reason. Everyone has an off night, there’s no reason to rub their nose in it.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      A very good and tricky question, Becky. My recent posts on constructive criticism (http://www.alreadypretty.com/2013/12/reader-request-offering-constructive-criticism-part-1.html and http://www.alreadypretty.com/2013/12/reader-request-offering-constructive-criticism-part-2.html) will give you an idea of where I’m coming from, and in this case it also relates to tone. Sincere criticism that is negative will sound relatively detached, focus on concrete examples, and be delivered in a vocal tone and using language that is free of disdain. I haven’t seen a lot of it, but occasionally will encounter red carpet commentary that talks about fit and figure flattery issues in a very scientific way, and I can get behind that. I don’t think it’s incredibly important or helpful, but at least it’s focused on what the person could’ve done better instead of what a total unmitigated disaster she’s become.

      So interesting to hear that you think celebs wear wacky stuff to “troll” the public. I can see where things like Lady Gaga’s meat dress could be considered publicity bait, but a lot of it is down to taste. Tilda Swinton, for instance, wears some really sculptural stuff that plenty of people hate but others find fascinating and bold.

      • Becky

        I don’t work in a creative field, so I don’t know where people draw the line between art as personal expression and art as career. But both in my job (policy work) and in my free time (community activism), I receive a lot of constructive criticism on what I’ve done. Some of it is negative, and I absorb it and move on with my life. I am heavily invested in both my job and my community, and I take a great deal of pride in the work I’ve done. Being matter-of-fact with negative criticism — on both the receiving and giving ends — is necessary if I’m going to get better at any of it. This just seems needlessly complicated.

        And I assure you, I do not hold back on negative criticism of my elected and appointed officials, even though it makes some of them unhappy.

  • http://www.afashionablestitch.com Sunni

    One of the BEST posts I’ve read anywhere! Especially when, lately, I’ve wanted to give into snarky, rude, rotten commentary. Wonderfully written and one that I will be coming back to again and again. I loved this! LOVED IT!

  • Hazel

    I wish they had taken you up on your parameters! That is something I would enjoy watching, and I don’t watch red carpet commentary because of the nastiness. I’ve been dismayed by a lot of the Olympics coverage where the commentators have been super snarky this year. It ruins the entire experience for me and makes me feel sad for the athletes who work so hard for that experience to endure nasty comments about their outfits and looks. I wish more people realized that insightful critique can be respectful and positive, and I’m glad your voice is out there as a balance!

  • C. Mandler

    Thank you for this article. It has made me more mindful of what I spend my time watching or reading on the internet and more aware of the negativity of many of the fashion blogs I previously viewed daily.

  • Anamarie

    I’m proud of you, Sally!

    One of my colleagues (you know the one) saw a news clip on TV and commented that the reporter was “disgusting!!” I don’t know who it was, but she was not a teeny little model-type. I was so disappointed and am still kicking myself for not calling her out on her comment.

    I shouldn’t be surprised when strangers are caught off-guard when I compliment their outfit, shoes, whatever. Women are not used to be treating well by each other, because it’s so much cooler to be snarky. I call bullshit.

  • DM

    Thanks for this post Sally. Love the non-judgmental way you have asked people in general to desist from this type of harsh and mean comments.
    I have done a few ‘fashion critic’ type posts in my blog of yore, but I would stay away from criticizing body types or the person herself. I did make comments on what I didn’t like however, and at the time I thought I was being funny.
    There is a great website called Red Carpet Fashion Awards, the author of which is a great example of what you cited as fit-and-flattery topics being addressed rationally. Do you know of it? And what are some of your favorite fashionable women?

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      Oooh, thanks for the recommendation, DM! No, hadn’t heard of Red Carpet Fashion Awards, but will check it out. Stylist Elisa Nalin is my current style icon – she is a MASTER with color. Also bold and quirky but with a broad classic streak. I also love Cate Blanchett for the same reasons.

  • A different Becky

    Amen!

    I grew up in a community of snark, but as an adult I’ve actively chosen to spend my time around positive, sincere people, and it’s made such a difference. Now when I hear negative commentary (which is rare, because I gravitate toward media like your blog), it sounds so sad and immature. The snarker doesn’t come across as an expert, so much as an insecure 7th grader.

    My model for criticism done well is Tim Gunn. He’s honest and tough and challenges people to do better, but he’s always, always respectful and generous-hearted.

    • http://www.janelmessenger.com Janel M

      Agreed.

      Tim Gunn has been a significant role model for me in my teaching. He brings an amazing balance. I’ve tried to emulate it with my students and find it works wonders.

  • Audi

    Good for you, Sal, for sticking to your principles. I prefer awards show criticism that discusses TRENDS that don’t really work — a certain color or cut that’s fairly universally unflattering, for instance. That way it isn’t about a person but about an unfortunate trend that they fell for. After all, it isn’t the celebs putting this stuff out there and telling us how great it is, it’s the designers and fashion gurus. Interesting how you really never hear anyone wondering what the designer was thinking when they MADE a dress, only what the woman was thinking in wearing it.

    • walkercreative

      I completely agree. You’d be surprised at how many designers lament publicly about the awfulness of women’s bodies and how their curves ruin their designs. I too wonder what some of the the designers are thinking. If they want to do textile art, they should do that. But if they chose to design clothing, they should make it as unique, beautiful and flattering as the people who wear them. The wearer should not have to bear the brunt of poor design choices.

  • Annabeth

    Good for you, Sally!

    You know, if you were to begin blogging about fashion at big events — on your terms, in your positive way — I would LOVE to read that and I bet others would too. Back several years ago, when Go Fug Yourself was more balanced, I would go there because their snark was usually not mean-spirited and the critiques they gave of fashion that did and didn’t work really was informative. But then the tone shifted, and they basically completely bought into the Snark Sells crap, and so I haven’t been to that website in years. They’re about one step ahead of Joan Rivers, at this point.

    And ITA with Different Becky about Tim Gunn. He may be critical, but he’s never coarse or hurtful about it; he truly discusses the clothes without judging the person wearing them.

    • A.B.

      One reason I love Tim Gunn so much is how he would yell at the designers when they complained about having to design and sew things for “real” women who were not model-thin.

  • SunGold

    Brava!

  • KimM.

    Way to go Sally! I really admire you for sticking to your principles. Like the other commenters, I do not watch Red Carpet anything because all the snarkiness really bothers me.

  • marsha calhoun

    Too bad – I would have enjoyed your commentary (and, as usual, I would have ignored the others because of the snark factor) – it would have been nice to hear intelligent, thoughtful observations. As it is, I often look at “best dressed” and “worst dressed” photos without bothering to read the printing beneath them because all I care about are my own observations. It helps to have the sound turned off . . .

  • http://www.patience-crabstick.blogspot.com Patience

    Do you think it was an expectation that you deliver snark rather than normal commentary? It seems like it might have been an opportunity to deliver the sort of commentary you’d like to see.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      Welllll, since nearly all red carpet commentary includes “worst dressed” and “fashion disasters” content – both locally and nationally – I was honest about my unwillingness to contribute that up front. I do live TV every week and didn’t want to put myself in a position where an anchor was asking for snark or worst dressed and I had to weasel out of it on the fly. Since the network declined to have me on, saying “We thought you might be too nice,” I assume that would have been the case.

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Like Marsha, I prefer to watch with the sound turned off (or captions unread) as well, and draw my own conclusions. Body snarking is never OK; thoughtful critiques of a model or actor’s clothing sounds OK to me – it’s part of them putting themselves out in the public.

  • Nebraskim

    Fantastic. Thanks for sticking to your moral compass and being a person of integrity. Yes it might have been “great for your resume” but if you feel sick about it, or cannot live with yourself, then it’s not at all worth it. I applaud you. And I also agree on Tim Gunn’s fab way of offering critique. He is just always kind and never aims to be mean-spirited or nasty. Angie over at You Look Fab did a nice post recently on judging the clothing, NOT the person.

  • McD

    I commented along the same lines on your “how to give criticism” posts, but I fail to see why women get different guidelines then men. Why are you encouraging women to consider how they talk about celebrity fashion and speak of the daughters of our society? Feminism doesn’t mean being strong, stylish, smart women who have a set of rules on how to conduct oneself. It means the same set of rules for both men and women, with an even playing field and conduct. I find it frustrating that there is post after post after post on how women should act, how we should give feedback to each other, how women should carry themselves in the workplace, yet this blog is about how women should turn away from the media’s negative talk and influence to find their true beauty. Isn’t what this post (and the others) is encouraging us – we should only talk about x, y, and z under a, b, and c guidelines – just a different version of society’s message, from a different source? It brings me back to my original point. Men don’t wring their hands over how they give feedback or how to give bad news or constructive criticism – why are we as women? I do hope to open a discussion here, I’m doing so in the spirit of community discussion because we disagree, but do so to learn and grow from each other, Sally. I’m hoping that my love of fashion and open dialogue can help us understand each other because I’m struggling to understand how some of these issues intersect with the overall discussion of how to look one’s best through quality, budget friendly clothing with impeccable fit and self-expression.

    • Shelly

      “…Men don’t wring their hands over how they give feedback or how to give bad news or constructive criticism – why are we as women? …”

      The answer seems pretty obvious to me: Women are more likely to snark and thus more in need of the additional reminders on how to give criticism.

      “…Isn’t what this post (and the others) is encouraging us – we should only talk about x, y, and z under a, b, and c guidelines – just a different version of society’s message, from a different source? …”

      The overall lesson is to be kinder to people–I hope that is society’s message. Is there any reason why anyone should be criticizing someone’s outfit? Because someone is a public figure they need to accept the feedback of the public about how they look? I’m not buying it.

      Who are any of us to cut down anyone else because of their clothing choices? Unless you are a boss enforcing a dress code or a spouse going to an event that is important to you, criticizing someone’s clothes really just makes the criticizer a bit of a jerk.

      • MckD

        I could not disagree more. You say:

        “The answer seems pretty obvious to me: Women are more likely to snark and thus more in need of the additional reminders on how to give criticism.”

        So, basically, women are catty and like to gossip and should be told how to conduct themselves like ladies? How are men less like to snark? Why do women need additional reminders on how to give criticism? And by who?

        Your answer reminds me of a story I read about when telephones were first introduced into the workplace. Employers worried the women – the secretaries – would never work again because they would be chatting on the phone all day long. It seems archaic in the same way that your comment seems out of touch.

        • Shelly

          Just going off my experience in the office. I never hear any male coworker ever discuss clothing or body issues. Any further generalization of my comments will breakdown so it is what it is.

      • Becky

        I don’t think there’s any evidence that women are more likely to snark, and I am tired of those tropes being trotted out as an excuse to police women’s language and interactions.

        If anything, women are underrepresented in late-night TV, stand-up comedy, film and television criticism, and other similar outlets. Fashion is merely the one field where women approach parity with men in criticism and analysis.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      I think we just see things in a fundamentally different way, McD. I hear what you’re saying, but in my mind the same guidelines about avoiding snarky fashion-related commentary apply to men. I would never encourage anyone to do a “worst dressed” list for the guys either.

      Yes, it should be the same set of rules for women and men, but in my opinion that set of rules shouldn’t be defined by what works best for men and how they’re wired. Not exclusively anyway. So while men might not wring their hands when they get negative feedback, does that mean we should deliver said negative feedback to absolutely everyone in a blunt, rude way to all just as a means of leveling the playing field? If so, why? Doesn’t that mean that the men are still defining our choices and behaviors through underlying dominance?

      The reason I write about topics like this and focus on how they affect women specifically is because I am focused on empowering women specifically. This blog does treat topics that pertain to looking one’s best, but also addresses body image among women which is why posts like this appear; I feel that how we discuss famous people can affect how we feel about our own bodies. My own underlying feminism means that any time I say something about how to treat your fellow women I am thinking, on some level, that those suggestions would also apply to men (and trans people and other genders). My audience here is mostly women and we talk about women’s fashion, but my hope is to encourage all people to be more considerate, kinder, and aware of a variety of viewpoints. And that applies to all genders, sexes, and identifiers. Perhaps I am not being clear enough about that. But characterizing today’s message that being nasty and brutal when we discuss celebrity fashion is a harmful practice as the same message we’re getting from the media? Saying that a post like this reinforces the idea that women should be held down and back by social norms? I just don’t see it, McD. I agree that the playing field should be level, but I don’t agree that it should be brought down to a meaner, baser, more aggressive level.

      Again, I think we just disagree. In fact, my guess is that we have fairly different ideas and feelings about our own feminism and how it manifests and is practiced. But I want you to know that I appreciate your honesty and candor, and that you were respectful in bringing up this disagreement. This is exactly the kind of discussion and disagreement I love to see here in the comments. So thanks. And thanks for being a part of this community, even if you don’t always agree with what I write or think or do.

      • MckD

        I think we agree on more than you realize. We both are for the advancement and betterment of women!

        I actually hate celebrity news and loathe the E network. I love fashion though and that’s where I found you. I agree with you – it’s pretty unnecessary to tear down red carpet fashion with things like “so-and-so looked ugly, fat, etc.” However, saying “that was a bad choice, this color or style or whatever would have looked better” is also ok. It’s OK to analyze fashion choices, not just offer “these celebrities looked great and here’s why!” In my career, and in most aspects of my life, it’s easier to examine the big picture and learn from them, than start from scratch. Learning by example can be a positive or negative example.

        You wrote “I agree that the playing field should be level, but I don’t agree that it should be brought down to a meaner, baser, more aggressive level” and, again, I agree. I didn’t actually say that, to be honest. Men aren’t mean or aggressive compared to women, just as women aren’t bitchy or frigid compared to men. A level playing field doesn’t mean women should act like men, it means women can act like themselves and not be penalized for it.

        Like you often write about, we women often get mixed messages via the media, for profit companies, and (the biggie) other women. Here’s where I think we differ. There is an unbelievable amount of pressure that women pit against other women. It can be subtle (like friends competing over who is thinnest or the best mom or enters the most 5k runs) to major (for example, fashion magazine fluff, online celebrity gossip sites). I think this post (and a few others like it) add to the pressure by magnifying small non-issues with a women’s focus and creating problems for women that simply don’t exist. I can appreciate that you feel your posts are aimed at everyone – they are very kind, you aren’t snarking and keeping things very positive – but, even you say, by and large, your posts are for and about women. It means that when you write about giving feedback and how to discuss things with co-workers (I keep going back to the feedback in the workplace examples!), it’s with a woman in mind. I feel bad that there are people reading that are in some of these situations and that they might be made more complicated by having to qualify themselves or justify their feelings when it’s truly not necessary. Life just isn’t that hard. I keep writing it again and again, I’ll say it again. Men do not go through that thought process when telling someone their tie is too small or doesn’t match their suit. Not because they are men and that’s their brain’s wiring, but because giving feedback shouldn’t be a struggle. Practice it, everyday, often, and without regret if it comes from a good place. I’m tired of apologizing for being an assertive, smart woman and other women should be too. We need to stop second guessing ourselves and get out there are be us!

        • Sarah

          Agreed. I run a small company. I have employees that depend on me for their livelihood, and I have to make fairly important decisions on a regular basis that could negatively affect my employees and their spouses and children. I oversee every aspect of the company from HR to production to packaging to marketing to sales and returns. When something needs to be corrected, or someone needs to be disciplined, or we need to re-evaluate something that isn’t working, I truly do not have the time to spend thinking about how to properly phrase a criticism so as not to unintentionally insult my employee, and I expect my employee to be smart enough and mature enough to understand that it’s not about him/her, it’s about running a business. When there is an issue, I am straightforward and honest. “Tom, your productivity was extremely low last month and we need to figure out how we can improve it.” Now in a perfect world maybe I would only ever praise the good things and ignore the issues, but I live in the real world, and my business will fail if I don’t address areas of improvement. I don’t think it’s mean or base or aggressive or inherently masculine to do so, and I certainly don’t think I am lowering myself in doing so. I’m running a successful business and creating more jobs for my community.

          • Kendra

            Can we agree that there is a difference between telling an employee that their productivity is too low and commenting to a friend about someone at work that coworker with a big butt shouldn’t wear a certain style of jeans?

            These discussions always seem to default to ways to tell someone how to do their job when the original discussion is about not snarking on a person’s clothes or body.

            • Sarah

              It’s not actually different when your job is to get dressed, take pictures of your outfit daily, and post them online on a public blog. Or to act in movies, then get dressed, show up at awards shows and premiers, and have your photo taken for public consumption.

            • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

              I know that there are points of connection, but have to agree with Kendra that there are fundamental differences between offering an employee essential but negative feedback and red carpet fashion snarking. Or even offering a friend unsolicited style advice. One action is important to communication and the running of a business, the others are opinion-based and subjective.

              Also red carpet commentary isn’t the same as interpersonal feedback. Anne Hathaway never would’ve heard what I said about her dress, and my opinion of her choices has no bearing on her career success. Or mine. This makes the system – a one-sided, opinion-based one – substantially different from business or personal feedback delivery which impacts the lives of people we know and work with.

              And, just so we’re clear, although I pushed to focus on the positive I DID offer to give constructive but non-snarky feedback when this commentary opportunity arose, which I stated above. As I mentioned to another commenter, the network responded “We thought you might be too nice,” and politely declined to have me on. I do not think that all negative feedback is bad and should be snuffed out, but I’m not going to contribute to the Joan Rivers, Perez Hilton, Go Fug Yourself machine of celebrity fashion tear-downs.

              MckD, I just don’t agree that Hollywood fashion commentary is a tiny, non-issue that is being magnified here. I’m certainly not the first to highlight it as a problematic and influential behavior, and I know I won’t be the last. I believe that how we talk about other people affects how we feel about ourselves, and encouraging my readers to be kinder when they talk about celebrities and – by extension – all other people is not a harmful or spineless piece of advice that will weaken them as women. I never said “don’t give constructive negative feedback,” here or in other posts, but I think we may differ in our ideas of what constructive means. All negative feedback is not constructive, helpful, or necessary – especially when it comes to personal style and non-work-related subjects like health, relationships, parenting, etc. And I believe that just because you are entitled to an opinion doesn’t mean that sharing that opinion with any- and everyone is helpful or necessary. I also believe that how you treat people matters, and that delivering negative news or information with kindness and respect is a beneficial practice. I, too, am a smart and assertive woman and I don’t want to apologize for being myself. I don’t now, and I never will. But I also won’t offer up negative comments or input without giving some thought to how they might best be received. Both because I want to be kind and because I want my feedback to be heard and valued instead of dismissed. I view that as considerate behavior, not apologist behavior.

              We see eye to eye on much, but differ on some fundamental points. And I’m sure we’ll disagree again!

  • skylar

    Sally, thank you for this article. I completely agree with you, and I often end up sticking up for celebrities in conversations where everyone else is bashing them (which ends up making me seem like a total boring dork). But the slippery slope idea is totally true. I’ve been there and was burned for it, and now I get extremely comfortable when I’m around people who snark/gossip in any way. People do it to audit each other’s identities, and all that does is make the box we’re all in smaller, tighter and less interesting.

  • KJ

    I would have loved to have seen/heard your commentary (or your style of commentary). Maybe those of us who agree should contact our local TV outlets?

    I love watching red-carpet fashion but have come to LOATHE the pre-awards shows. It’s all about “who are you wearing” and fawning vacuously over designers and jewels instead of honoring talent or style. I usually watch with the sound turned off nowadays!

  • http://dculpitt.tumblr.com Des Culpitt

    I LOVE THIS! I tweeted this out and hash tagged #alreadypretty. I’m so glad you set perimeters, and sad they couldn’t support you on their airwaves. We will all be better off once more people start standing up to this type of fashion trend!

  • Siobhan

    I appreciate your positive outlook and I’m sure your voice would have been a fantastic contribution to the show. Would you consider doing a post on the Golden Globes to share the comments you would have made on television? I would be really interested to hear your take on the fashion and how we could apply the actors dressing techniques or styles in regular formal wear.

  • Barbara

    Is it actually one of the stipulations of the job that you are to be snarky? Next time they ask you, say yes and just do what you do without telling them that you don’t buy into the snark. It will be refreshing and they’ll probably get a LOT of positive feedback for your point of view. And then they’ll hire you again.

  • Shawna

    As a regular reader of your blog I would expect no less of you. It’s sad that they turned you down and you are quite right, snark sells. I actually don’t have much interest in the fancy gowns as they are so irrelevant to my life they are boring to me so even positive commentary wouldn’t really be something I find useful. I do enjoy some good humour applied to some of the wacky things that come down the runway at fashion shows but I think that is different. Not body shaming of models but comments on the actual clothes.

  • Anne

    Good for you! There’s so much negativity out there, so it’s nice to see you standing up against it. I teach media literacy and body image classes to 7th graders, and I see the effects of all that snark daily.

    Too bad you didn’t get to do the show, but maybe another time…

  • Aging fashionista

    Totally agree with your approach. Speaks to why I check in on your blog almost daily. Combo of fashion, feminism, self accetance. Keep up the great work.

  • mariah

    Sally, I heart you more every day. Thank you for being a positive role model :-)

  • http://www.lasartora.blogspot.com Paola

    Good for you for stipulating your parameters, but I can’t say I’m surprised that having done so, your contribution wasn’t sought.
    Personally, I’m done with negative judgements on others (celebrity or not), especially about the way they present. It diminishes the person criticised, and it diminishes the person listening. As soon as it starts, be it on television, print, the web or in everyday conversation with real people – I’m outta there!

  • http://wildbeautyworld.com Meli

    Agreed! It’s such a cliche, and I’m tired of it – all the petty snark is destructive to us all. And it’s worst in women’s media – from red carpet shows to real housewives to some of the major blogs.

    Thank you for standing your ground – too bad that TV isn’t ready for your positive sparkle yet.

  • http://www.reluctantfemme.com/ Cassie

    I’ll admit, I have trouble silencing the snob in my head who thinks, “Urgh, gross” when I see a celebrity wearing something I don’t like. But I think it’s really rather important to not let that voice out, if we can’t silence it. As my mother still says to me, “If you can’t say anything nice…”

  • Thursday

    I am totally on board with your approach here Sal, although it is sad (but not unexpected) they knocked you back based on your specs. I totally agree that body and style snark is normalised in the media and that condones it more widely. I refuse to participate in body and style snark conversations any more, and I do believe that very, very slowly I am influencing others for the better.

  • Brigitte

    I would really love to see a post on red carpet fashion the way you would have done it! Women of colour, size diversity, and reasons why something worked or not: sounds pretty darn ideal as a fashion recap for the awards season.

    You know what else would be cool? If you could use red carpet looks and the trends the represent, and show us how we might be able to incorporate similar trends in more casual or office-appropriate outfits. I’d love your take on that!

    • stacy

      I agree with Brigitte. I would really enjoy reading a post about red carpet fashion.

  • Chris

    Sal,

    I thoroughly applaud your courage and your stand. I wish there were more like you in the Media. Yes, I do consider you in the Media. OK, freedom of the press and all of that, but what possible benefit to anyone is all that nastiness? Honestly it all makes me sick, as do the tabloids.

    While waiting in line to pay for my groceries, I can’t help but look at the headlines on the tabloids. So much of it seems to be about mostly women’s bodies and faces. Best & worst beach body, who has gained weight, who is anorexic, whose plastic surgery went wrong, blah, blah, dweebe, dweebe. No one ever has the right body. They are too fat or too skinny. Women’s faces are supposed to look 18 their entire lives. But if they get plastic surgery to lop off a few years, they’re criticized for that. No one can win in that circus. Unfortunately this crap sells, as apparently the TV celebrity bashing does.

  • sophie

    I don’t watch the awards ceremonies, especially the clothing commentary for exactly the reasons you described. But I would have watched yours. Perhaps next year….

  • julie

    thanks so much for the reminder about what it really means when we snark on others, celebrities or not. i used to do it, and thought it was just fun, and in examining my own feelings of insecurity about my body and how i dress it, i realized that i had a jury in my head. once i kicked them out, i could be free from the judgement myself. I only pay attention to compliments now.

  • http://joannashock.com/blog Jo

    So extremely refreshing to read nice things on the internet, and to see people standing by their principles.

    Reading this reminded me that the celebrities have a whole team of people behind them to create a look – which means when the celebrities’ looks are criticized, the people who put the hard work in to make them look like that are being criticized. We might not agree with their decisions, but the hairdresser, the make-up artist, the stylist, etc. have done their jobs and invested time, so I’m sure they get just as put out by the snarking as the celebrities do.

  • http://livingwithaholts.blogspot.com/ Grace H

    THANK YOU for sticking to your guns, even if it meant missing out on doing the show. The fashion world, or really the world in general, needs more positivity. Fashion is about the clothes, the manipulation of a 2-D piece of cloth into something to dress a 3-D body, not about the body itself. I wish more people got that.

  • Maria Pate

    100% agreement. It is a hard habit to break, but worth it for all our sakes. I try not to do it, quickly backtrack if I do, and refuse to participate in it if someone else is doing it.

  • LP

    THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR TAKING A STAND. I’ve hated the best/worst dressed lists for as long as I can remember, and I will not watch those shows. I will not participate in such conversations.

    They also make me feel terrible when I overhear someone talk about how ‘terrible’ a star looked in a lovely gown. Wow, “terrible”? If a gorgeous gown on an attractive person is “terrible,” then what do you think of me? What can we possibly achieve in terms of graciousness and kindness with each other, if after we have made an effort, it still isn’t good enough?

    I grew up wearing uniforms in school, and I think they are the best things ever. There could only be so much negative talk about clothes choices–lots of benefits to that.

  • Tina

    Yay, Sally!

  • http://lostsoulwoman.blogspot.com Cel

    YES. Good for you not bowing to what they wanted! That’s integrity right there :)

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  • http://batman-news.com 33

    Old saying “if you have nothing positive to say, say nothing”.
    It is what I practice in social media. If I comment at all, I will say something positive about the blogger’s outfit or POV. Very very rarely I am compelled to point out a glaring misunderstanding or mis conception (in my view point anyway).
    Too many people are not nice on line, seeing that they can hide behind an empty account. If more people ignore the trolls (don’t add fuel to the fire) and practice being gracious when commenting, the world will be a better place.

  • http://batman-news.com 33

    BTW, why don’t you do what you set out to do here in your blog?? Photos curtesy of Getty Image and 100% of your comment. I’d rather to hear what you have to say about celebrity and red carpet fashion than the best/worst lists churn out by some nobody.