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Elliot Page Recalls Being Forced To Wear A Dress For Juno’s Red Carpet

Elliot Page on The Oprah Conversation
(Image credit: Apple Inc.)

Dress codes used to be thought of as simple in terms of gender. Namely, women wear skirts and dresses while men wear pants and suits. But when women started wearing what you would expect a man to wear, not everyone could accept that transition. According to a Bustle article about the history of women who have been fighting for the right to wear pants, you would think some progress would have been made by now in letting a woman dress how she wants. In a story from before Elliot Page came out as transgender, he recalls the time when he was forced to wear a dress at the red carpet premiere of Juno.

Because red carpet events are considered very prestigious, they want to maintain a glamorous and professional image. This is understandable since it is a big honor to be able to attend these premieres, so one presumably dresses like the event matters. It is a different story, though, if these red carpet events impose sexist rules on female attendees such as being banned for not wearing high heels. Umbrella Academy’s Elliot Page spoke to Esquire about the anguish he felt being told he had to wear a dress at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Juno

I think of times when people actively were like, ‘No, you need to wear a dress’ in very, very, very pivotal moments. I remember the premiere of Juno at the Toronto International Film Festival. Previously, doing press for Hard Candy, or when I went to Sundance for a film, I didn’t know the concept of, like, a stylist. I grew up working in Canada! It’s different. I dressed how I wanted to dress—not dissimilar to now. And I remember going and having the thing I wanted to wear, and then understanding the degree of expectation of how fancy someone is supposed to look. So I said I wanted to wear a suit, and Fox Searchlight was basically like, ‘No, you need to wear a dress.’ And they took me in a big rush to one of those fancy stores on Bloor Street. They had me wear a dress, and . . . that was that.

In the Jason Reitman movie Juno, the title character may have identified as a female, but she didn’t stick to the female fashion trends we’re used to seeing in female characters. Her fashion choice contrasted with her best friend Leah’s in that she didn’t wear mini skirts or other preppy clothes, but hoodies and graphic tees. The only real exception is when she puts on lipstick in one scene. Elliot Page said during his interview that a lot of teenage girls really responded to the clothes Juno wore in the movie. This proves that there is no “right way” for a woman to dress, and that seeing various fashion choices of women on-screen can be very inspiring. 

There are plenty of women in Hollywood who know how to dress fabulously without having to wear a dress to prove that. For example, Ellen Degeneres always wears glamorous suits everywhere she goes. Not to mention, Oscar Isaacs was allowed to wear a skirt at the Moonlight premiere and for this year’s Met Gala event. So why couldn't Elliot Page where what he wanted back when promoting the 2007 dramedy? Page continued to talk about the right to wear what you’re comfortable with regardless of your gender.

And then all the Juno press, all the photo shoots—Michael Cera was in slacks and sneakers. I look back at the photos, and I’m like . . .? And it’s easy for people to roll their eyes, but you know what? No. That was really extremely, extremely fucked up. I shouldn’t have to treat it like just this thing that happened—this somewhat normal thing. It’s like: No. Regardless of me being trans! I’ve had people who’ve apologized about things: ‘Sorry, I didn’t know, I didn’t know at the time.’ It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter if I’m trans or cis. Lots of cis women dress how I dress. That has nothing to fucking do with it.

It’s very true that Elliot Page should not have to come out as transgender for the right to be able to wear a suit at a premiere. Cis women deserve that treatment jut as much. At least now with the Juno star living as the man he truly is, he was able to embrace that recently by wearing a tux on the red carpet for the first time at this year’s Oscars. He was able to look the way he has always felt inside compared to looking the way people have told him to. Hopefully down the line, Page’s words can inspire more people, whether they’re cis-gender or transgender, to dress as their glamorous selves at these red carpet events without being told how.

You can see Elliot Page as the new character Viktor Hargreeves in the third season of Umbrella Academy on June 22nd. Until then, you can still see him in the previous seasons on your Netflix subscription

Carly Levy
Carly Levy

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.