Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé appeared onstage together at the Global Citizen Festival on December 3, 2018. Their performance was a tribute to Nelson Mandela, and, not surprisingly, viewers loved it.
Still, observers noticed quite a difference in the outfits the two were wearing.
Let’s start with the photograph that sparked the conversation:
— billboard hip-hop (@billboardhiphop) December 3, 2018
Sheeran is rocking a solid 2004 double sleeve look with jeans, while Beyoncé is wearing a dress that would put the Queen of France to shame.
— Warner Music Canada (@WarnerCanada) December 4, 2018
Why was Sheeran allowed to dress like he was spending a casual day at home, while Beyoncé literally looked like space royalty?
Ed Sheeran is a 27 year old man the fact we’ve enabled him to feel it’s ok to dress like this at all, let alone next to Beyoncé really boils my piss pic.twitter.com/Q6XqgTFuvQ
— shon faye. (@shonfaye) December 4, 2018
Naturally, this sparked some debate. What exactly might be the underlying cause? Is it simply a difference in their branding?
Singer songwriter branding is different than pop-star branding. They should feel ok to dress however they want, except maybe think twice when meeting the Queen.
— Cedric Chambers (@ChambersFineArt) December 5, 2018
Ed Sheeran isn’t flashy though which is why so many ppl love him. Why demand he switch up cause Beyoncé’s style is flashier? They’re being who they are, that’s beautiful
— SSDG_Em☘️ (@4MyAmusement_) December 5, 2018
Their outfits show their personalities…nothing wrong with that. Their talent should be the show stopper, not what they're wearing.
— Krissi Abner (@krissiabner) December 5, 2018
But then some ugliness showed up in people criticizing Beyoncé’s outfit:
Ed Sheeran is dressed like a normal human. Beyoncé is dressed like Effie Trinket pic.twitter.com/ROAvwic7wu
— Shane (@Shanebaldwin82) December 5, 2018
That’s funny cuz I think her attire is in question
— J Gee (@jumpinjackhack) December 5, 2018
— Jeffrey Wilmoth (@Wilmoth77) December 5, 2018
Let me say:
1. Obviously I’m old and have no reason to have an opinion, but ;
2. Whatever the occasion, Beyoncé is overdressed for it.
3. I’m I never get invited anywhere.
— Gasman (@VeteranDave) December 5, 2018
Notice how the only people who had a problem with Beyoncé’s outfit appear to be white men. Hmm.
But the photo clearly illustrates the double standard of how we expect men and women to behave at the top of their game.
I get this.
Even tho I appreciate good musicians in normal clothes the double standard is ridiculous… what is expected of female vs male artists. https://t.co/xLEcNXVuX7
— Fat in Public (@garlicmeg) December 4, 2018
This photo is v v v v representative of what we expect from men and women at the top of their game, isn't it? https://t.co/cfeLw8n1aI
— Daniel (@sillyolddaniel) December 4, 2018
nobody asked ed to wear a tie .. there is a way to dress up a t shirt and make it not look sloppy. i think his lack of dress is a lack of respect to the venue and the event
— Marko (@MdotCOT) December 4, 2018
We’re not “attacking” the concept of dressing casually. If a woman showed up in jeans and a T-shirt while a was wearing a tux, there would be criticism. It’s about the sexist double standard, not the specific clothes. You’re missing the point entirely.
— Rose Wright (@RoseWrightt) December 5, 2018
But where does it really come from?
I'd say this is more of a photo representative of two unique performers who have diligently cultivated their on-stage image quite differently.
— Tim Schultz (@Phocion) December 4, 2018
Or she wore an outfit that added to the show and he wore an outfit that wouldn't mute the strings because he wanted the right notes to be played. Which, you guessed it, also adds to the show.
— Kyler Johnson (@Just_uh_Thot) December 4, 2018
It's really not. It's how Beyonce got to the top of her game. It's also how Ed Sheeran got to the top of his game. They just took different routes.
— KinoM (@KinoM) December 5, 2018
@shonfaye ..or perhaps it’s simply a case of two different genre artists performing one one stage while staying true to their own individual image and dress styles. They established their own style long before this joint performance. pic.twitter.com/95bbVrsC13
— Michael Dreyfus (@dreyfus_michael) December 4, 2018
They wear what they feel is appropriate for their own brand and that's ok. Nothing to do with gender stuff
— Foundation Buys 🏠🏠🏠 (@Foundationbuys) December 4, 2018
There is merit to the “these are the different styles they have cultivated” argument, but that misses the point, according to @garlicmeg:
People who are saying Bey's style is her style and Ed's is his r naive to think industry expectations didn't have any bearing in their deliberate early image formation.
Bottom line- men can stand more on their hard work and talent alone while women often have to 10/10 everything.
— Fat in Public (@garlicmeg) December 4, 2018
I can guarantee you Ed Sheeran didn’t think “wonder what the industry wants” when he got ready.
— Mark Yar (@ACityfam) December 5, 2018
wow the comments here 😮 men do not want to hear this. but u are so right, and it’s not just what is expected of artists. the amount of time and money and headache women spend on looks is cray, and that pressure is real. ty @garlicmeg
— Myriam Vanneschi ✖️ (@MyriamVanneschi) December 4, 2018
I get what you're trying to say but Beyonce is on a whole other level. She can literally show up in pajamas and it would start a new fashion trend. She is dressed like an icon because that's what she has worked so hard to become. Excluding her, however, you do have a point.
— Cherilnc (@Cherilnc) December 4, 2018
Fuck that. I'm a big fan of Ed Sheeran
Ed being white is a part of this too.
Ed's "style" is bedhead also, that doesn't fly in the mainstream if the artist has a different texture of hair.
— losgryfog (@losgryfog) December 4, 2018
The conversation needs to happen and should continue. Still, the number of men intent on shutting it down in the comments is staggering. Click if you dare.