The live-action Disney musical romance remake set box office records, including the highest ever opening weekend figures for a PG-rated film. Despite the success of the wildly popular film that teaches a variety of valuable lessons to viewers, critiques have focused instead on Watson’s topless photo shoot with Vanity Fair.
Vanity Fair showcased Emma Watson, Rebel Belle in a late-February cover story. The spread focused on Watson’s search to establish an identity outside of her acting career.
One of the photographs in the spread was an image of a partially exposed Emma Watson in a Burberry outfit, which has ultimately sparked a lot of conversation.
Many have criticized the image, calling it regressive and saying it undermines Watson’s feminist efforts.
On the other hand, some Cabrini students are reveling in the photographs, regarding them as daringly brave, feminist images.
Lily Weber, sophomore graphic design major, admires Watson’s decision to go topless and pointed out that the focus on her body is the exact issue of over sexualizing women.
“I think the fact that people are even focusing on her breasts rather than the contents of the article is exactly why we need feminism,” Weber said. “What do her boobs have to do with anything? I think it was brave of her, probably already knowing what people would say, but it serves to prove a point.”
Tyohnah White, sophomore majoring in communication and English, agreed with Weber, adding that the photo is extremely feminist and not antifeminist.
“I see nothing wrong with her posing topless,” White said. “This makes her even more of a feminist. She is telling women to love the skin and the body that you’re in. She’s standing for women’ rights. As women, we must love our bodies. We shouldn’t hide them just for the sake of being judged by others or being looked upon in a sexual image. A woman should be able to do whatever she pleases as long as it makes her happy.”
Watson responded to critical claims that she abandoned her feminist views by posing in Vanity Fair in a video interview with Reuters. In the interview, Watson expressed that those criticizing her reveal the misconceptions so many have about feminism.
“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality,” Watson said.
Weber respects Watson’s stance and hopes the photo opens up a discussion and brings about change for choice feminism.
“Sexuality is unfortunately still very much taboo socially, particularly women’s sexuality and their freedom to express it,” Weber said. “I know it’s cliche but just think about it: what if she were a man? You already know the answer, and that’s what the problem is. I think for the community as a whole, it’s an important step in the right direction. The point is equal freedom- to do or not to do. It doesn’t mean every woman has to walk around topless, it just means they should be allowed to without having their value lessened or their character questioned.”