ByElise Jost, writer at
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!" Twitter @elisejost
Elise Jost

Considering we're already 17 years into the 21st century, there sure seems to be a lot of confusion around the notion of feminism and what it entails. But then again, the progress of science hasn't prevented a staggering proportion of this planet's population from still having no clue what it means to be on your period — I mean, some believe we should just hold it in — so it's not even that shocking anymore to hear people not being comfortable with a lady being a lady in whatever damn way she pleases.

Thankfully, young actresses like — who's starring as the clever Belle in 's live-action remake of the iconic Beauty and the Beast — are using their platform to make their voice heard, and defend the crazy notion that female workers in Hollywood and everywhere else should have the same rights as their male counterparts. Yet to some, the fact that she appeared in a stylish photoshoot for Vanity Fair where her underboob is slightly visible in one of the pictures is a negation of all her feminist activism. So let's clarify it one more time.

Emma Watson Showing Her Body Doesn't Make Her Any Less Of A Feminist

In a stunning shoot by British fashion photographer Tim Walker for Vanity Fair, Emma Watson poses in a variety of dreamy costumes. One of the pictures shows her topless, her shoulders covered by a bolero jacket just long enough to hide her nipples from view. Neither her pose or her facial expression are overly sexy; in fact, the nudity element makes her look more like a porcelain doll than a sexual object.

But the backlash was swift:

Not only does it seem ridiculous to describe this photo as "here are my tits," considering it's taken out of the context of an entire spread of pictures with a very distinct style and imagery, but reactions like Hartley-Brewer's are degrading and taking away from what should be the main focus of Watson's Vanity Fair cover: The clever and insightful interview, in which she discusses her activism, her roles, and making Belle a modern-day Disney princess in .

See also:

Has Emma Watson Contradicted Herself?

Meanwhile, other reproaches came based on the fact that Watson supposedly discredited Beyoncé when her eponymous album came out in 2014. In an interview for Wonderland Magazine led by fashion wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, Watson discussed the videos released along with the songs and said she felt "conflicted."

"As I was watching [the videos] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her and I just wondered if you had thoughts about that or if you had any of your own thoughts about any of it really…"

So, to 2014 Emma Watson, an overtly sexual attitude wasn't what she thought the best way to express feminism, which clearly goes against the notion that women should be free to dispose of their bodies in whichever way they decide. But it's neither a takedown of a fellow star nor a criticism of nudity, and the way she initiates a discussion about it instead of slamming Beyoncé for what she does is exactly how we should approach these themes.

It is a debate: If posing semi-nude for pictures or doing suggestive dance moves in music videos will lead many to think of you as a sexual object first and feed into the body-obsessed culture we live in, are you doing feminism a disservice or are you just being yourself? Opinions will vary, but what's not up for debate is the definition of a feminist — so if you need a refresher, just watch the video above.

What do you think of Emma Watson's photoshoot for Vanity Fair? Watch her explain how she approached her character in the "Empowered Belle" featurette for Beauty and the Beast:

(Sources: Vanity Fair, Wonderland Magazine via The Cut)


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