I’m a newshound—I usually have news on in the background all day in my home office. But I’ve noticed a trend lately that really disturbs me: While the male anchors look professional and trustworthy in their dark suits and smart ties, the women look like they just arrived for a garden party or are going clubbing. Sleeveless anything seems to be the order of the day, and v-necks are plentiful. Tight sweaters are also prevalent. Pink and yellow and other “feminine” colors abound. (I won’t even get into the short skirts and bare legs and sky-high heels.)
Yesterday morning I played a game—I flipped through all the national news channels, including CNN, HLN, PBS, FOXNEWS, CSNBC, MSNBC, BBC, and all the local Atlanta stations—and decided the “winner” of my viewership for early morning news would be the channel featuring a female anchor who was wearing a jacket. The ONLY one? Linda Stouffer on WSB-TV (Atlanta ABC affiliate). Thank you, Ms. Stouffer.
My game continued throughout the day—I hopscotched around news channels, stopping when I found a woman wearing a jacket—not a lacy coverup, not a bolero, not a long-sleeve fitted dress, but an honest to goodness jacket. Because the female newscasters professionally dressed were so few and far between, I actually had to relax my constraints and settle for channels featuring female reporters wearing jackets. But even those were rare—I cringed at one particular clip of an interview with a suited congressman on Capitol Hill by a woman wearing a flowered chiffon blouse with little cap sleeves. More than once during the day, I couldn’t find a single jacketed woman on the air…so I’d turn off the TV altogether.
I know why women in news wear what they wear—it’s called “erotic capital.” It’s not enough to be smart and sound good—they have to look cute and sexy for male viewers…and for female viewers. I’m sure some of them have contracts that dictate what they wear on-air. It’s a shame that women have finally earned as much face-time as men in news programs, but only if they dress like someone’s girlfriend.
(By the way, if you have daughters, granddaughters, or nieces, I highly recommend the eye-opening documentary called Miss Representation about how women are portrayed in the media and how it’s affecting our young women—and men.)
Q: What do you see on TV that bothers YOU?