Saturday, February 17, 2018
Journalism

Rude Facebook Comments Seem to Unfairly Target Female TV Journalists

From time to time, I’ll see a television news personality post about receiving rude Facebook comments about their appearance. Women seem to be a bigger target than men.

In a society that is opening its eyes (finally) to gender discrimination, it’s clear by some particularly rude Facebook comments that users there haven’t begun to get the message.

The latest example comes from Cecily Tynan at WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, who recently posted on her station Facebook talent page this word of advice in all caps: “IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT I’M WEARING, I DON’T NEED TO KNOW!”

Along with the message, she posted a snippet of a weathercast she says led to a comment from someone claiming her clothing made her look “unprofessional” on air:

“Frankly, I don’t think it is appropriate for people to use social media to criticize the appearance of others,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “Usually, the target is a woman, which adds the element of sexism. It happens a lot, to many on-air women.”

And that’s an interesting fact.

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, more and more women have been standing together as a show of support for each other and against an old regime that has been too quick to objectify them.

Yet how many times have we seen stories similar to this? It’s almost always a female TV personality who’s criticized on appearance or wardrobe, and it seems the majority of the complainers just happen to be women.

Earlier this month, Senior Fox News Channel Meteorologist Janice Dean received a message telling her to stop allowing Fox to dress her in skirts because her legs were so distracting. Dean, who has battled multiple sclerosis, responded that she’s proud to have them to walk on.

WJAC-TV’s Mary Ours who suggested she needed “fashion consulting.” Ours’ response: “You’re body-shaming a pregnant woman when we should be lifting each other up.”

In Dallas, WFAA-TV traffic reporter Demetria Obilor received a comment from someone who called her “ridiculous” because she looked like “a [size] 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress.”

There are plenty more examples, and again, the victims seem to almost always be women.

In my years in the TV business, I can’t think of one male anchor or reporter who was criticized based on their appearance. But I can think of at least five females who Facebook “fans” found fault with — from their attire to their hair. And as I recall, every single one of the complainers also happened to be women.

Maybe men are just as “offended.” But somehow, men never seem bothered enough to complain about what men or women wear at the anchor desk.

Do you think what Tynan is wearing is inappropriate? I don’t.

It certainly isn’t skin-tight and it seems to flatter her shape. Her attire, I would think, would be less attractive if it was baggy on her frame.

I know of a weather anchor who was criticized a few times — all of the complaints came from women — for wearing clothes that flattered her figure.

They might not have been the outfit one might wear in a business office, but then most business offices don’t have big lights and high-definition studio cameras rolling around to broadcast their workers on television sets throughout the city.

What my colleague was wearing certainly didn’t look inappopriate to me or to the female managers with whom I work and who would have been in a position to chastise her for her choice of attire.

Everyone, male and female, would surely want their local TV personalities to look as good as they can. They would certainly want to look as good as they could if they were the ones on television.

So it leads me to wonder why there’s so much criticism. And why so much of it seems to come from the same gender.

Maybe everyone needs to pay heed to what Tynan says at the end of her post: “So, if you don’t like what I’m wearing any particular day, please follow the rule I teach my children: ‘If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ I’ll wear something different the next day.”

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.