Earlier this week, Vanity Fair debuted the cover of its April issue, featuring Beauty and the Beast heroine Emma Watson. While the cover was nice enough, and the interview gave us some new insight about the actress (like why she never talks about her BF), it was a particular photo in the spread, shot by Tim Walker, that has everyone buzzing.
The photo in question features Watson in a high-collared shrug and… not much else.
Though she’s not showing off any more than many celebs don on a regular red carpet (see: West World star Angela Sarafyan in the “naked-est” dress of the year), people were angry with the 26-year-old’s choice to expose her breasts, claiming that the decision to show her body off was a direct contradiction of her stance as a feminist.
There’s one group in particular that’s coming for Watson for a very *different* reason, however: the Beyhive. Back in 2014, as you may or may not recall, Watson had some harsh words for Queen Bey regarding feminism. Watson was quoted as saying that she felt conflicted while viewing Beyoncé’s visual album because she felt its message to be at odds with Bey promoting herself as a feminist, as it gave viewers a “very male… voyeuristic experience of her.”
Fans were also upset by the fact that Watson, a white woman, would criticize Beyoncé as a member of a group that has long been fighting stereotypes of hypersexuality.
But Beyoncé isn’t the only woman who’s felt heat from Watson. The real life Belle was also quoted shunning women who choose to wear less-than-modest clothing back when she was 18, saying that she felt uncomfortable in a miniskirt, and that wearing revealing clothing wasn’t “sexy.” “What’s sexy about saying, ‘I’m here with my boobs out and a short skirt… have a look at everything I’ve got?'” she said at the time.
*Cringe* Not cool, Emma!
Now, Watson herself is speaking out on the matter, and whether it’s unclear if she’s had a grown-up change of heart since uttering the aforementioned comments or otherwise, her answer to the sitch at hand is one that should make any woman cheer, if only for its basic underlying truth (not to mention the fact that one’s prior poorly worded soundbites should not make fodder for feminist-shaming).
When asked about the VF backlash in a recent interview, Watson became visibly impassioned, saying, “I’m always just kind of quietly stunned. They were saying I couldn’t be a feminist and… have boobs.” The actress did not address her previous statements or acknowledge Beyoncé directly, but went on to express what it is that feminism means to her today, and oooo, is it good: “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality.” She paused before adding, “I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it. It’s very confusing.”
Hell. Yes! It’s a concept that should — and does — apply to ALL women (Watson AND Beyoncé included!), and we are here for it. Hopefully, it’s one Watson will gauge her words by from here on out, as well.
What do you think of Emma’s response to haters? Tell us over @BritandCo.
(h/t BuzzFeed, photos via Frazer Harrison/Getty)