KTLA’s Weather Reporter Isn’t Offended By Sweater Incident
When I opened up my laptop this morning, I was bombarded with news stories insisting I should be offended that Liberté Chan, a weather reporter at KTLA, was handed a sweater on TV.
As the story goes, Liberté was reading the weather report in a sparkly black cocktail dress when a disembodied male hand appeared onscreen to hand her a sweater because the station was “getting a lot of emails” about her skimpy attire. Liberté laughed it off and put the sweater on, then noted that she looked like a librarian.
Since Saturday morning, the story’s gone viral. At least a dozen news outlets have picked it up and Twitter is outraged.
Wow! Male @KTLA anchor humiliates meteorologist, forces her to cover her dress: “We’re getting a lot of emails” pic.twitter.com/xU7hbCiwer
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) May 15, 2016
Media outlets have said she was “forced” to put the sweater on, and even that this is an example of slut-shaming.
But it’s not. Liberté wasn’t “forced” to do anything — and getting offended on her behalf is not empowering. In fact, Liberté herself isn’t even as offended as everyone wants her to be.
She wrote about the incident on her own blog. She has a way more healthy attitude about it than most people with Twitter accounts, who would have cried bullying by now based on the male co-anchor’s actions and the alleged emails from viewers.
“I’ve worked on-air for 10 years and by now, I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion and you have to have a thick skin to work in this business,” she wrote. “It’s a visual medium and sometimes your outfit works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
A dress Liberté had put on earlier in the morning wasn’t showing up right onscreen, she explained, so she changed into the black sparkly one, which was a loaner from somebody else. She also acknowledged that the dress wasn’t “that inappropriate,” but that she decided to play along with what she considered to be a joke between colleagues.
“For the record, I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater,” Liberté wrote. “I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time.”
Here’s the thing: daytime TV is the corniest sector of media. Morning show anchors’ jokes have to appeal to the same people who share minion memes on Facebook. So someone on KTLA made a slightly sexist joke in an attempt to be funny and it fell flat. There’s no reason to be indignant about it, especially when Liberté Chan herself doesn’t even seem to care much.
The sweater thing seemed more like a dumb gag about wearing a sparkly club dress in the morning, rather than an effort to cover up Liberté’s body because the dress was too sexy. News anchors wear sleeveless dresses on the air all the time. The only thing different about this one was the sparkles.
It’s great that people are thinking more critically about workplace dress codes and it’s true that a guy in a club-friendly outfit might not have been poked fun at on the air. But if we want people to pay attention to actual examples of sexism in the workplace, getting enraged over a stupid joke isn’t the way to do it — especially when the alleged “victim” of this “slut-shaming” doesn’t consider herself to be a victim at all. Let’s move on to the next outrageous viral news story, please.