You can wear gowns of sequins, gowns with four metre trains, gowns that have all sorts of bizarre cuts and shapes.
Or you can wear a suit, just like your football-playing partner.
That’s what Annie Nolan did last night, and it got plenty of attention. One media outlet described it as “the suit that stopped the Brownlow Medal count” and it was a serious hit on social media.
Nolan wasn’t breaking any rules, she said. After all, the invite did say “strictly black tie or evening gowns’ — and Nolan had the black tie. But she was, she hoped, taking a free pass away from the fashion police. “Women have been unfairly judged for their red carpet appearance in the past, and the boys seem to get away without criticism each year,” she wrote on social media, along with posting a photo of herself. “Fashion is a visual expression of how you feel. And I feel the red carpet has been unfairly biased and cruel to women in the past.”
It was a great statement — although I’m sure it won’t prevent her from appearing in the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ dressed columns. It came as Nolan, along with her friend Haylea Cooney, called for a #BullyFreeBrownlow in an attempt to halt the judgement of women on the Red Carpet, who should instead be celebrated for supporting their partners and everything else they have to offer.
Nolan describes herself as a social commentator, equality supporter, animal lover, and household CEO. She’s married to Bulldogs player Liam Picket and they have three kids together. She writes a parenting blog called Uncanny Annie, has often stated she’s not afraid to be herself, and has appeared in television interviews wrangling her children, including twins. She’s got a big personality and is proudly outspoken, and knows that given she’s so intimately involved in the game, has much more to offer than simply appearing on her husband’s arm at end-of-season events.
Last month she told the Morning Show that she finds the term WAG frustrating, and said women have more to offer the game than fashion advice. “I worry about the objectification of women in the AFL, especially as the AFL is going up in terms of women in it,” she said. “We have so much to offer. We live with these people. We know a lot about footy, but we get asked about fashion and really surface questions.”
Last week, she explained to the Herald Sun why she was promoting a #BullyfreeBrownlow, following her experiences at previous events. “Some of us are more concerned with hiring a babysitter than finding the perfect dress,” she said. “This constant focus on our appearance perpetuates the notion that women are purely decorative or should be valued for their physical appearance, rather than our accomplishments or contributions to the world.”
Still, she added she completely respects the fact women “embrace the evening” as an opportunity to dress up, and supports the fact many women do love fashion and love to follow who’s wearing what at the Brownlow. “It doesn’t need to be either or. I believe we can stand up to the sexism, not take anything away from our partners and enjoy the fashion and dress how we want to without worrying about what people will say.”
It’s a refreshing statement. Still, it didn’t seem to inspire the media last night to #AskHerMore.
So far, most of the non-frock related questions to the partners have been about weddings. *stares into middle distance* #AskHerMore
— Welton B. Marsland (@wbmarsland) September 26, 2016
— Lachlan Kennedy (@lachlan_kennedy) September 26, 2016
— theoutersanctum (@outersanctum01) September 26, 2016
— Collective Shout (@CollectiveShout) September 26, 2016
— Mark Kavenagh (@MarkKavenagh) September 26, 2016