For the past week, the cover of endless magazines and website homepages have been debating the one great question: Who were the best-dressed and who were the worst-dressed at the Emmys. There are galleries of different actresses in various poses, showing the front, back, and side angles of their outfits; comparisons between one actress and the next; extensive debates as to how hairstyles and makeup were done,etc.; and this doesn’t even cover the discussion as to who were the men lucky enough to attend the event with these women.

Yet as the focus of so many revolves around this, one very basic and fundamental issue seems to be overlooked. And to me, as a woman, it is very sad and painful.

This “red carpet” is the meeting point, the convergence of the survival of the fittest, the place where winners and losers are made

The Emmys is an event that is organized to credit, acknowledge and reward those who are the most talented in their fields. It is an evening that is intended to celebrate skill, capability, and creativity, and yet, in the end, it is just one big fashion show.

Haven’t these women proved themselves through their acting? Haven’t they showed the world that they are intelligent, passionate and talented? Haven’t they made it clear that they have more to offer than just their pretty faces and overly skinny bodies? I would think so. I would hope so.

Yet when it comes to the time when they are acknowledged amongst their peers, amongst others who know and respect what it means to act, what it means to be an actor, they once again are reduced to their mere physicality. Worse yet, they allow themselves to be reduced to their physicality. Yes, she may have won an award for an outstanding performance for a very difficult and challenging role, but if her dress is the wrong color, watch out, that will be the only thing we hear about.

I doubt it is coincidental that these actresses walk down the red carpet. That this “red carpet” is the meeting point, the convergence of the survival of the fittest, the place where winners and losers are made.

In Kabbalah, red is considered the color of gevurah, of severity. It is a powerful color, but specifically because of its color, it is something that must be used carefully and in proportion. Blood is red. Blood represents life, but it also represents death. Red grabs attention. Red makes others look. Red shocks. This is why traffic lights, stop signs and brake lights are red. When the red flashes, it means that this is where our attention should be. Nothing else should matter.

So why in the 21st century, with feminism, women’s rights, the liberation movement and everything else we have tried so hard to gain, why do we allow ourselves to walk down that red carpet and reduce ourselves to mere bodies? Why do these talented women temporarily forget and forego everything they have worked so hard to achieve, as they turn around, strike a pose and flash a smile? Why?

As an Orthodox Jewish woman, I am often asked if I feel repressed or caged in or trapped through the laws of modesty that govern how I dress. I am asked if I resent having to wear only skirts or long sleeve shirts. People have even told me that they feel sorry for me and it must be so hard to live with such restrictions.

But as I click through these galleries of beautiful women standing on that red carpet, I feel so fortunate, so free, so blessed to be seen and understood and respected for who am I and not only for what I wear or how I look.

This is not to say that a woman should not be attractive. She most definitely should be. But there is that line, that line between being attractive and being attracting. That red carpet is the line. It is the line that says that I want you to stop and look at me, my external self, my physicality. And if you like what you see at that first glance, you will most likely have no need to look any further.

There is that line between being attractive and being attracting

Maybe that is what this is really all about? Maybe it is easier to be analyzed merely from the point of view of one’s body or hair or clothing. For if people like what they see, then that is great. And if they don’t, then it is all easily changeable. A weight trainer can help you lose weight and a fashion designer can pick the right outfit and a makeup artist, or better yet, some good ol' surgery can fix any other flaws. And as long as the world is happy only seeing the external, you’ll be safe. You’ll be able to stand on that red carpet and flash that winning smile and show them all you've got.

But as we all know, it isn’t all you've got, it is just all you may be willing or wanting to show. Because while there may be a lot we can do to fix our faces and bodies, fixing what lies underneath isn’t as simple and takes a lot more work. If the photographers and reporters and viewers were nearly as concerned with the kind of people that we are, with the deeds that we do, with the way that we speak and how we treat one another, then things would be a bit more tricky.

We are now in the month of Elul. This is the month of ours that is dedicated to working on ourselves, to polishing up, to reflecting on our past as we work towards bettering our future. This is our spiritual time to make sure we look our best, for we too will soon stand on that red carpet. We soon will also be viewed from every angle and analyzed and discussed. But no matter how fashionable our dress or white our smile, it is what lies within that must shine and sparkle.

For the only review and writing we should care about, is what takes place every Rosh Hashanah. This is when G‑d inscribes us in the Book of Life. This is when G‑d looks back on our past year and writes that review based on our performance.

This is why for the month preceding our red carpet debut we sound the shofar every morning. It is the cry of the soul, the cry of the Jewish people, that is meant to awaken and arouse us to figure out what is really important. To figure out why we are here and what we are doing about it.

Maybe Shakespeare was right that we are all players on the stage. For in the end, unlike today’s Emmy’s, it will be our performances that will be acknowledged and praised, just as it should be.