Kristi Gordon’s haters reflect bigger problem faced by women in media

WATCH ABOVE: Kristi Gordon discusses a letter she received attacking her pregnancy wardrobe.

TORONTO — Since sharing a nasty letter criticizing her maternity wear last week, Global B.C. meteorologist Kristi Gordon has been inundated with messages of support.

“It’s been absolutely mind-boggling,” she said. “I’m probably close to about a thousand emails.”

These are some of the outfits Kristi was most criticized for:

While Gordon said she only seems to get the mean emails when she’s pregnant, many other female news personalities have to deal with these kinds of personal attacks on a regular basis.

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“It happens all the time,” said Elisa Lees Munoz of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

“The comments on clothing and hair are part and parcel of the bigger phenomenon of attacking women in general, in an environment that’s anonymous and that leads to the most visceral attacks you can imagine.”

Global Edmonton news anchors Quinn Ohler and Shallima Maharaj have both been victims of hate mail.

Maharaj said she was once told over Twitter that she’s “not a good-looking Hindu.” Someone else took the time to write her former news director about her “unfortunate” nose.

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Ohler admitted the biggest complaint she’s gotten lately is over her lip colour.

“I’ve gone out and bought some other colours because of it. It seems so stupid but it did kind of get to me in the sense that ‘can people just get over my damn makeup and listen to what I’m saying! It’s important!’

“No matter how confident you are as a person,” Gordon said, “it’s amazing when someone says something, it can just eat away at you a little bit.’”

No matter what you do, someone is bound not to like something about your appearance. But when people link Ohler’s appearance to her journalistic skills, that’s when it really gets under her skin.

“I’ve been told I’m bad at my job because of the way my hair looks,” she said. “Someone once told me my hair stylist should be fired. Ok, that’s me!”

For the record, not only do most Global News anchors have to do their own hair and makeup, but they also are their own stylists.

“We’re just local news personalities. Half of us don’t really even have much of a clothing allowance to be perfectly honest,” Gordon added.

The Double Standard

The B.C. weather anchor feels that there’s a lot more pressure on women than men — especially in the media industry.

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“The look of the male, they look more handsome when they have wrinkles, for example, versus females, right?”

Munoz doesn’t believe male news personalities experience the same attacks as their female colleagues, at least not nearly on the same level. One little experiment, carried out in Australia, appears to back that up.

In a show of support for his co-host who received a harsh viewer letter about her style, morning show host Karl Stefanovic decided to wear the same blue suit on air for one year to point out the sexism that exists in media.

Over the course of the year, Stefanovic’s Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson was regularly judged on her appearance while his was never brought up.

Until he revealed what he had done, his singular outfit choice was never even noticed.

WATCH: Australian TV host wears same suit for a year to highlight sexist double standards

The bigger picture

“We’re in media and we’re visible,” said Maharaj, “but let’s be clear, we’re also people getting out of bed to make a living.”

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The problem, of course, is not just limited to the media industry. Gordon said she’s received messages from tons of women who related to her situation. One was from a 67-year-old who recently had to return back to the work force, where she was met with ageism.

“Meanwhile she’s doing it because it’s a necessity, just the same way women go through pregnancy – they don’t have another choice. The male can’t have the baby…and it’s tough when you’re second-guessing yourself all of a sudden.”

WATCH: When Kristi announced her pregnancy, she asked people to not get upset with her about what she wears during her pregnancy. “It was horrible last time.”

“I think we have to take a good long look at the role of women in our society,” Munoz said.

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“How they’re portrayed, how they’re perceived in the media and really recognize that…these kinds of discriminatory actions happen every day. And we should be aware of them and be willing to respond to them.”

With files from Amy Judd and Jenny Sung, Global News

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