Sarah Millican is one of the top comedians in the UK. Her shows sell out, she performs at huge, famous venues, she often is the only woman comedian on the notorious sausage party that is the British panel comedy show (QI, Mock the Week, 8 out of 10 Cats, etc), she has her own hit comedy show, and is generally beloved and hilarious. Last year she was nominated for a BAFTA award for her fantastic The Sarah Millican Television Programme. And she dared to walk the red carpet in clothing fit for a body that was not that of a supermodel. How rude!
People were scathing. Commentators, twitterers, the peanut gallery, they all had comment on her "nana" dress (which I happened to love). With some time between the previous BAFTAs and today she wrote a fantastic essay in the Radio Times and took the whole thing apart.
She started with
I am a comedian. You may or may not find me funny, but the fact remains, that I am a comedian. This feels like a defensive start to a column but you will soon understand why.
So we know where we're going with this. (For the record, she is very, very funny.)
On the run up to the ceremony, plans were made. This here smashing magazine asked me to present an award, someone asked if I wanted my hair and make-up done, my fella took the night off to accompany me, my friend asked if she could come shopping with me for my dress. Yes, yes, all of this, yes. My friend and 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.
(For the non-Brits, John Lewis is a department store).
So she was already at a disadvantage, but off she went and bought her lovely swishy dress. Then she had to actually wear it.
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.
As she points out, of course, her husband was exempt.
My husband wasn't asked who he was wearing, which disappointed him. Mainly because he was dying to tell ANYONE he was wearing an Asda tux. Not one of the cheap ones, as he likes to point out, it was £60.
(Asda is owned by Walmart. £60 is a very cheap suit, but who gives a shit! He's not a model!)
She enjoyed the show, went to go home, looked at her phone, and twitter had exploded. EXPLODED. Every awful insult, debasing and dehumanizing her. On tv the next morning they concern trolled her appearance and choice of clothing. The newspapers were scathing. After such a wonderful night, she was reduced to crying in her car.
And what does she have to say about it?
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.
Why does it matter so much what I was wearing? Why did no one ask my husband where he got his suit from? I felt wonderful in that dress. And surely that's all that counts. 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".
By the way, her twitter profile says "On tour til end of May 2014. Feminist and lover of food." I knew I liked her.