Olivia Munn's Essay Kickstarts Debate About Fashion Criticism (and Who Should Be Criticizing)

Olivia Munn attends Vanity Fair and Lancôme Toast Women In Hollywood on February 21, 2019 - Getty-H 2019
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Several Hollywood insiders and fashion critics defended Go Fug Yourself, which had written about Munn, as a legitimate fashion website.

Olivia Munn wrote an open letter on Thursday morning after a couple popular fashion bloggers criticized her outfit, a pinstripe suit by designer Peter Pilotto.

The actress' essay argued that Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, who run the site Go Fug Yourself, are not legitimate fashion critics. Munn said their work “contributes to the perpetual minimization of women and propagates the idea that our worth is predominantly (or singularly) tied to our looks,” and continued by calling out their “snarkiness and hypocrisy.”

Cocks and Morgan had written a post on April 18 that called Munn's Apex for Youth gala look “not as terrifying” as her previous red carpet ensembles. 

After Munn published the essay, several Hollywood insiders and fashion critics pushed back and defended Go Fug Yourself as a legitimate fashion website that focuses on critiquing the art of fashion and not women’s bodies.

Sarah Watson, the creator of the Freeform series The Bold Type, said Cocks and Morgan “run a delightful, fun, positive blog and for Olivia Munn to use her celebrity to try to destroy them personally and professionally because they thought her outfit was meh is absolutely awful.”

David Russell, Sia’s manager at Crush Music, added, “I swear I'm not being funny but all I know about Olivia Munn is that she's always mad about something.”

Actor Anthony Rapp weighed in, partially defending Munn by calling criticisms of her essay “invalidating” to her experience. “You think they don’t do any kind of ridiculing of folks’ appearance? And that they don’t do so with snark or meanness? Appearance isn’t isolated to facial structure or body shape,” he wrote. “We have someone sharing a perspective that resonates for some of us we speaking to problematic aspects of such sites. Is that not worth some consideration?” 

Rapp said his proposed remedy is to think about how criticism is delivered; just because Go Fug Yourself is witty and pithy doesn’t mean it’s not harmful or problematic, he said.

The Parent Trap actress Lisa Ann Walter agreed with Munn that delivering mean fashion feedback, such as through Joan Rivers' Fashion Police show, should be a thing of the past. “We've moved on. We have such bigger things deserving our hate. Fug on Fascism, ladies!” she wrote on Twitter. CNN anchor and documentary producer Soledad O'Brien simply wrote, “Good for Olivia Munn.”

Fashion critics also got involved in the debate on Twitter, mostly defending Go Fug Yourself and their line of work. Following Ariana Grande’s criticism this week claiming bloggers are “unfulfilled” and “purposeless,” fashion writers Tom and Lorenzo wrote that this “appears to be the week celebrities with enormous social media followings punch down and single out their critics for harassment.”

They continued, “Let's not be coy. Olivia Munn knows exactly what kind of week the @FugGirls are going to have thanks to this. This is irresponsible.” 

Lara Witt, editor in chief of Wear Your Voice magazine, tweeted that the recent framing of critique as "unskilled 'hate'" from Lizzo, Munn and Grande demonstrates “a lack of self-awareness and lack of understanding of how entertainment works.” Still, Munn acknowledged in her essay that “there are some things you sign up for” as an actress.

Bitch Media co-founder Andi Zeisler explained why Munn’s move was “punching down,” because Munn chose to call out a small website, with about 110,000 Twitter followers, which she is not reliant on for elevating her own status. “Will you also be writing essays on Vogue, Us Weekly, E!'s Fashion Police, Page Six, and the entire celebrity-industrial complex? Because this is punching down when you should be punching up,” Zeisler tweeted.