When she was first nominated for a 2013 Bafta Award, Sarah Millican was flattered and proud. But she didn't know that she was in for a nasty surprise. Appearing on the red carpet in a floral John Lewis dress, the British comedian became a target for the bored Internet trolls who make hatred a hobby. Now, one year later, Millican has come forward with a frank essay about the vile treatment she was subjected to. Some excerpts:
On choosing a dress that fit her figure:
"I danced into John Lewis knowing that a) they have lots of mini shops in there, and b) I can fit it into most of them. Fancy expensive designer shops are out for me as I’m a size 18, sometimes 20, and I therefore do not count as a woman to them."
Describing what it's like for a normal person to walk the red carpet:
"The red carpet is very intimidating, although I garnered a few laughs when I replied to the 'Who are you wearing?' question with 'John Lewis' and the 'Where did you get your dress?' question with 'The Trafford Centre.' I had a few awkward photos taken by the wall of paparazzi. Awkward as I’m not a model (I’m a comedian), have never learnt how to pose on a red carpet (I’m a comedian) and I have pretty low self-esteem."
Crying in the car on the way home:
"I went onto Twitter and it was like a pin to my excitable red balloon. Literally thousands of messages from people criticising my appearance. I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) was destroyed by the masses. I looked like a nana, my dress was disgusting, was it made out of curtains, why was I wearing black shoes with it. I cried. I cried in the car."
Why all the hate?
"I’m sorry. I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job. Putting clothes on is such a small part of my day. They may as well have been criticising me for brushing my teeth differently to them."
And finally, a perfect plan for revenge:
"I made a decision the following day that should I ever be invited to attend the Baftas again, I will wear the same dress. To make the point that it doesn’t matter what I wear; that’s not what I’m being judged on. With the added fun of answering the red carpet question, 'Where did you get your dress?' with 'Oh, it’s just last year’s, pet.'"
There are three vital lessons for all here:
- Just because you don't know someone doesn't mean they aren't real — Mean Girls was a satire, not a guidebook.
- Cruelty is not fashion commentary — And it's also not a good look.
- Women are not required to be fashionable or pretty. Women are not required to conform their appearance to the beauty standard — Sexism, objectification, patriarchy: let's collectively try a little harder to stop feeding into all of that stuff, okay?