Kim Campbell says wearing sleeveless outfits ‘undermines’ women on TV

Former prime minister Kim Campbell pictured in 2009. Fred Chartrand/CP

Former prime minister Kim Campbell tweeted Tuesday that female TV broadcasters should avoid wearing clothes that show their arms.

Campbell wrote that women who wear sleeveless outfits while on TV “undermine” their own credibility.

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“I am struck by how many women on television news wear sleeveless dresses — often when sitting with suited men,” she explained. “I have always felt it was demeaning to the women and this suggests that I am right. Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas!”

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The tweet came as a response to another article, which expressed the same viewpoint, and was shared by the organization, Informed Opinions.

Campbell’s remarks prompted criticism online, with many saying women’s abilities matter more than what they wear.

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“I think dismissing women because of their outfits undermines credibility and gravitas,” one Twitter user named Rebecca Kepley responded. “Wouldn’t it be nice if credibility could be weighed by the content of one’s work rather than their apparel?”

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Some Twitter users pointed out that the comments from Campbell are peculiar since the politician has faced criticism herself for showing skin.

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In a 1993 photo, Campbell bared her shoulders for a photo shoot, and held up a suit of lawyer’s robes in front of her body, as if naked.

To one Twitter user who pointed to Campbell’s photo, she replied: “Photo was art — juxtaposition of bare shoulders (femininity) and legal robes — (male dominated power structure).”

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Campbell’s remark also gained attention from prominent Canadian women who work in front of the camera.

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“I believe in individual choice,” said Dawna Friesen, anchor of Global National. “My advice to anyone on air is to look authentic and professional. We don’t have to look like cookie cutters.”

“But your clothes — whether you’re a male or female news anchor — shouldn’t be louder than your voice.”

“I think people should dress how they are comfortable & what makes them feel confident,” Global Halifax reporter Natasha Pace wrote.

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“All due respect to Cda’s 1st female PM, but that comment is stuck in 50s,” Global Toronto anchor Farah Nasser tweeted.

Toronto-based CityTV reporter Ginella Massa also weighed in on the issue.

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“Maybe we should stop equating women’s intelligence/ability to do their job by what they’re wearing,” Massa tweeted.

“I don’t care if her arms are covered or not — I care if she’s a good journalist (says the reporter who’s gotten lots of attention, good & bad, for what she’s chosen to wear on TV).”

— With a file from The Canadian Press

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