Twitter Users Call Out Visual Gender Standards In Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran Performance

Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran shared the stage at the Global Citizen Festival in completely opposite outfits, and Twitter users wasted no time calling out the visual gender standard displayed between the top-tier artists. Sheeran played his set in jeans and a black T-Shirt, while Beyoncé appeared in a fuchsia ball gown fit for a red carpet of Met Gala-drama level moment.

Both Beyoncé and Sheeran have controlled the pop charts, and recently recorded a duet on Sheeran’s hit single “Perfect.” Though they share a covetable spotlight, some said what’s expected of men and women in positions of influence is wildly different, and obvious in their chosen performance outfits.

A photo of their duet at the festival began to circle on Twitter Monday. Writer Shon Faye started the conversation with a tweet on the topic. “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,” she wrote. Faye's tweet recieved over 2,300 retweets in its first few hours. It was posted Tuesday morning. Faye did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment. 

Another user, Daniel, echoed her tweet, writing. “This photo is [very] representative of what we expect from men and women at the top of their game, isn't it?”

GettyImages-1067682848 Ed Sheeran performs during the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 at FNB Stadium on December 2, 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Sheeran did a duet with Beyoncé and their outfit choices caused a debate on gender standards. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100

Sheeran is often seen in T-shirts and jeans, and in general, is known as a casual artist. He's mainly seen walking on stage with his guitar, loop pedals and not much more compared to pop artists like Taylor Swift, who have theatrical shows with dozens of dancers and set changes. Beyoncé, on the other hand, is one of those artists who is known for giving full-energied, dance-routine-filled performances with no stone left unturned.

One user defended Sheeran’s choice to wear casual clothing and stated attacking anyone, even Sheeran, for wearing loose-fitting clothing is equivalent to attacking those on the autism spectrum who are sometimes uncomfortable in typical event wear, like a suit.

“It is OK to dress like this, it is OK to wear simple, loose fitting, casual clothing with trainers. If you attack NT folks for wearing clothes like this, then you attack us on the spectrum for wearing clothes like this,” wrote Twitter user Ian Winter.

Winter continued to explain the restraints of a suit. “We deal with sensory overload, you know how choking a tie is, you know how uncomfortable suits are with all the buttons etc,” he wrote. “I know Shon is trying to shine a light on the different standards for men and women, but it shouldn't be at the expense of us.”

A handful of users were understanding of Winter's point, but most commented there is more being observed in the gender conversation than comfort. Twitter user Katelyn Johnson challenged Winter’s idea: “Have you ever worn 2-6 inch heels out? I do not believe Ed Sheeran was actively challenging gender stereotypes.”

Beyoncé and Sheeran did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Beyoncé has been a vocal celebrity in the movement for gender equality. She penned a letter for Global Citizen on International Women’s Day in March 2017, along with other celebrities like Madonna, Jada Pinkett Smith and Julia Roberts according to OUT.

“We fight for education. For health. For justice. For every girl. Every woman. Everywhere. We fight for our future. Because none of us can move forward if half of us are held back,” the letter read.

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