A Reddit post that has now gone viral showing female meteorologists across the United States all wearing the same dress has again sparked a larger discussion about gendered style expectations women on TV still face.
The post, called ‘this is what happens when you post a link to a $23 dress on Amazon to a female meteorologist Facebook group‘ was submitted by Jennifer Myers, a meteorologist for Dallas’ FOX 4.
She says that often female meteorologists are subject to a strict dress code for what they can and cannot wear on the air, and that many get criticism from viewers if they repeat outfits too frequently or wear something others deem ‘inappropriate’.
Global BC reached out to our meteorologists to ask them what they thought about the idea and the attention this post received.
Kristi Gordon, whose own experience with hate mail and her on-air pregnancy wardrobe went viral, says she thinks these women banding together and wearing the same dress is a great idea.
“We (women on TV and women in general) need to stand up against unfair judgments,” she says. “There is way too much pressure to look ‘perfect’ everyday. It’s completely unrealistic. Women on local television especially feel pressure since we are expected to look like movie stars. Meanwhile… the majority of us are working women with families. We have to do our own hair, sometimes our own make-up and buy our own clothes on often very slim budgets.”
Meteorologist Kate Gajdosik says when she dresses for work she tries to look professional, fashionable, complimentary, age-appropriate and comfortable, all in one. “Meteorologists need to dress for a head-to-toe look given that we stand in front of the camera where even our shoes are often visible,” she says. “This aspect of our job poses a challenge at times as clothing, shoes, and accessories are expensive and we aren’t given unlimited clothing allowances. But, it also leaves us open to criticism. Mostly on social media, and mostly unsolicited.”
Gajdosik says when people write in about her on-air appearance, it is mostly positive, but when it is negative it is also often cruel and inappropriate.
“Comments on social media give people the right to lash out and hide behind their computers where they don’t see the effects their remarks have on us. Sure, given the fact we work in television we put ourselves out there to a certain extent, but that should not give viewers license to openly ridicule our appearance or the job that we do.”
“I’ve been called overweight, criticized for the length of my hemline and told I have ugly knees. Viewers have made comments on whether they think my dress should be one worn on the morning news or evening news, and I was recently asked if I’m pregnant. I am not, for the record. The worst, however, was being sexually harassed on Twitter to the point I had to get the Global BC management involved.”
Gordon, who is no stranger to negative comments, says it is a rare day that men on TV receive emails about their hair and clothing. “Although dressing up can be fun sometimes… I would way rather be a man on TV,” she says. “They don’t have to blow dry their hair, they can pick the same suit two days in a row, wear the same shoes, they don’t have to worry about jewelry…. it goes on and on. All they have to do is choose a colourful tie (maybe a funky pair of socks), slap on a little make-up and away they go!”
Mark Madryga, Global BC‘s only male meteorologist, says his on-camera wardrobe requirements have rarely, if ever, been brought up by his news director and very rarely with viewers.
“I have always been consistent in my 21 years at Global,” says Madryga. “Suit and tie, with a two week rotation on the suit and a two month rotation on the tie. I can count on one hand the times I have gone tie-less, as it just doesn’t ‘feel’ as comfortable in front of the camera. Those are the rare times I have been contacted post-show by a viewer or two (usually my mother), who will ask me where the tie disappeared to.”
“Otherwise, on the very odd occasion, I will hear from a viewer who will comment, almost always positively, on my suit, tie or sock selection (which of late has trended into a little more dynamic)! But generally there is no comparison..female meteorologists receive the vast majority of the feedback…which I am thankful for.”
Meteorologist Yvonne Schalle says it is a misconception that there is a team of stylists and endless wardrobe choices behind the scenes. “Many of us are responsible for choosing all of our own clothes,” she says. “This dress ticks off the boxes for being jewel toned and flattering. With that price tag I should join the club and get this dress in a few colours.”
Gordon agrees, saying it is great to see all the female meteorologists sporting the same flattering dress. “I would have bought eight of the dresses, one in each colour, if I wasn’t on maternity leave,” she says.
As for the criticism? Gajdosik says they can laugh it off for the most part and move on. “If viewers want to focus on my knees or call me overweight that’s fine,” she says, “but they’re missing out on an informative and entertaining weather report.”
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