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Forget “Who Are You Wearing?”–Here’s What We Should Be Asking Women on the Red Carpet

Amy Poehler’s #SmartGirlsAsk is changing the game when it comes to how Hollywood treats women at awards shows.

image via (cc) flickr user watchwithkristin

“Who are you wearing?”

It’s a question that’s become synonymous with the “style-over-substance” obsession Hollywood seems to have when it comes to women walking down an awards show red carpet. The ubiquitous fixation on what clothes an actress (or director, or writer) has on their body–and therefor, on that body itself–only serves to distract from the actual work she’s done to get herself onto the red carpet in the first place. Yes, Hollywood is, on some level, inescapably predicated on the celebration of glitz and glamor, but the perennial fixation on female fashion above all else on the red carpet is indicative of a larger trend toward devaluing (literally) women’s contributions to the entertainment industry.

There are those, however, fighting back against this sort of reductionist red carpet behavior. Leading the charge is none other than Amy Poehler, whose Smart Girls organization made a point of expanding the questions asked of women at Awards Shows at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards. Poehler’s group, which partnered with Twitter, and the Television Academy itself for the initiative, used the hashtag #SmartGirlsAsk to pose thoughtful, impactful, and inspiring questions to Emmy attendees, all to demonstrate that a stroll down the red carpet can be an opportunity to do more than simply rattle off the names of fashion designers.

Once the cameras started rolling for Sunday night’s awards, Emmy attendees–both men and women–from all corners of television responded to the decidedly un-Access Hollywood-ish prompts. Saturday Night Live’s Kate Mckinnon admitted that she listens to “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked as her psych-up music. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, meanwhile, shared the best career advice he’d ever received (“Every single day, write something”). And, when asked by twitter user Angela Green to name a charity they are passionate about and why, Amy Poehler pointed to Worldwide Orphans, an aid and advocacy group focusing on children without parents around the world.

Poehler concluded her answer simply, saying “Thank you for that interesting question. Thank you for not asking me what I’m wearing.”

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