During the Oscars 2015 Ceremony last weekend the hashtag #askhermore trended on Twitter as people took to the internet to highlight the answers female celebrities gave to questions other than ‘what are you wearing?’
The campaign, from the Representation Project, exposes how just asking influential women “traditional” questions about style and beauty devalues their accomplishments and presumes that the general public are only interested in how they look.
#askhermore fits into a larger debate of how to inspire young girls to achieve their dreams without undermining that they may want to look beautiful. After all, the campaign isn’t asking female celebrities to look any less attractive; rather, it’s freeing journalists to assume that these women can be beautiful as well as ambitious and intelligent.
This is a familiar theme for us, not least through our work with Unilever’s Sunsilk brand. Sunsilk looks to ‘fire girls up’ by helping them get hair on their side so that they can tackle whatever their day throws their way! It’s no excuses hair, for a no excuses life. This pairing of beauty and ambition reinforces the notion that both can be important and one doesn’t need to be sacrificed for the other. To help Sunsilk bring this to life, we developed a content-generating annual event, where we engaged bloggers (not models) to help tell the brand story and reach more Sunsilk girls in an authentic way.
#askhermore has a clear message: there is more to women than beauty. However, not all brands subscribe or see the power of this message. As a woman, I see this both as a disappointment and an opportunity: by refusing to make assumptions about the intelligence and ambition of their female consumers, brands have a huge opportunity to engage them much more deeply and to challenge social norms while unapologetically achieving commercial returns.