Freezing ‘feminist’ A-listers should be brave enough to put on a coat

Pixie Lott looks freezing at the Evening Standard awards
Pixie Lott looks freezing at the Evening Standard awards Credit: Rex Features

Women are nails.

I don’t need to tell you this. We bleed once a month and continue as if everything is normal – despite a piece of us painfully and inelegantly shedding itself from our aching bodies while we sit nonchalantly in offices and classrooms.

We are trained to cope with this painful ritual from our early teens. Male friends and colleagues can’t even hear the word ‘period’ without grimacing, let alone imagine having one.

So it is hardly surprising that it is women who find themselves able to cope with wearing next to nothing on a red carpet in almost sub-zero temperatures.

This is the sight that greeted the British public this morning – as photos appeared of the world’s most famous women at the Evening Standard’s theatre awards.

Gillian Anderson Credit: Rex Features

These accomplished actresses – from Gemma Arterton to Nicole Kidman – do look stunning. And yet, totally and utterly ridiculous.

Temperatures on the red carpet fell to just 4C (39F) yesterday evening as an Arctic chill swept the UK.

While I gratefully slipped into my trusty 100 deniers and warmest winter coat this weekend, these women were forced to play the naked glamour game – acting their hearts out in real life, while trying not to shiver.

Arteton’s backless number and Salma Hayek’s frontless jobby may have landed them acres of coverage and the necessary photo op, but there is a bigger picture to think of.

Salma Hayek attending the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards Credit: PA

Don’t hate the player, hate the game – so the saying goes. And I don’t. But these women do have the chance, more than ever before, to disrupt the rules of a game that was created long before actresses had any agency (beyond being arm candy for the hungry male paparazzi).

 It must have been a weird conversation in the car between Kidman and her husband before she stepped out ready catch a chill. I imagine it went something like this: “Right I’m ready. I'll leave my coat here until later. You ok darling - walking out in flat comfortable shoes, a black tie suit and overcoat? You sure? OK hun. Let’s do this.”

Nicole Kidman Credit: Rex Features

You get the gist. This - an impressive woman who just bagged the evening’s top award for her brilliant portrayal of forgotten female scientist, Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51 - still can’t put on a coat when nature demands because no other actress is doing the same. 

Instead, while her male counterparts, such as James McAvoy, look toasty and comfortable walking into the same ceremony, she appears frozen and most importantly ‘perfect’.

Interestingly, some of the older actresses weren’t having any part of this bare flesh show – see Imelda Stanton, Penelope Wilton and Shirley Bassey. And while, of course, their outfits failed to top the blogs and front pages, they looked more like the  real women we - and younger girls - need to see.

Shirley Bassey looks toasty Credit: Richard Young/REX Shutterstock

Over the last few weeks the mask of perfection has also been slipping on Instagram – as models (in a further example of publicity hunting) ‘admit’ they are editing their lives within an inch of reality

And at the same time, we  still can’t rely upon some of our most famous women to disrupt what is expected of them on the red carpet and put a bloody coat on during winter. This becomes an even more ironic situation when you consider that these women have been declaring themselves feminists all over the shop, after appearances in fashionable women’s films and plays. (Hayek in Frida, Arteton in Made in Dagenham and Anne-Marie Duff in Suffragette).

It may sound small fry – but women have been uncomfortable since time began. And usually to please anyone but themselves. From the bound feet of China to the corsets of England – women have seldom been allowed to breathe easily in public.

Surely in 2015, as we read about the endless pressures girls feel to look and behave a certain way, actresses could do the decent thing and stop acting up.

This isn’t a prudish argument railing against women wearing plunging dresses or skirts cut to the hip. No on the contrary – this is a call for women to properly wear what they want – and when they want it. And that includes a warm coat and pair of thick nude tights.

As the model Rebecca Pearson put it: “P Diddy's never been shy of a large, sensible coat and neither should they.” Amen.