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#AskHerMore asks us to rethink awards show conversation on women

At the 87th Academy Awards, where women were notably absent from the list of nominations, red carpet questions about dresses and baubles seemed more trivial than usual.

“Who are you wearing?” is typically the default inquiry interviewers pose during pre-show pageants. Often, it’s the good and bad fashion — read: women’s fashion — that lives on in memory long after the speeches are over.

The #AskHerMore campaign is trying to shift the weight of that conversation. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jennifer Siebal Newsom, director of the 2011 Oscar-nominated documentary “Miss Representation,” was first to use the hashtag two years ago, demanding reporters to ask women in the arts better questions. Recently, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls brought it into the spotlight on Twitter at the start of this year’s awards seasons.

It reached red carpet Oscars viewers Sunday when Reese Witherspoon told Robin Roberts that “we are more than just our dresses.”

On stage, Patricia Arquette took the opportunity during her Best Supporting Actress speech to make the plea for “wage equality, once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

But even with the raised commentary on how women are viewed, the aesthetic judgment wasn’t completely eliminated. After winning Best Documentary Short for “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” producer Dana Perry talked about her son’s suicide. Once finished, host Neil Patrick Harris focused not on her speech, but on the unconventionalism of her attire.

You can’t have an awards show without the glitz and glam because, frankly, no one would watch. But the question that #AskHerMore raises is: does that always have to go hand-in-hand with putting women’s looks under the microscope?

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