A news anchor has struck back in her own clever way after a male viewer offered unsolicited fashion advice.
In the process, the news anchor inadvertently sparked a conversation of the pressure that women face to be physically attractive, even in the workplace.
Maggie Vespa, a reporter for KGW-TV in Portland, in the US state of Oregon, has worked as a broadcast journalist for nine years and currently serves as the station's weekend anchor.
Despite her esteemed career, one man on social media decided to focus on her wardrobe decisions and told her that her high-waisted pants were "foolish”.
"Just wanted to let you know that the clothes you've been wearing, especially those crazy pants that ride half way up your torso, are not cool looking, in any way," a man, identified only as Jeffery, messaged Vespa on her professional Facebook account on Thursday.
"They look rediculous [sic] on you. Please change your wardrobe, you're [sic] way too pretty to look so foolish."
Then, while Vespa was live on air on September 6, Jeffery sent her a follow-up message: “OMG you really looked uncomfortably [sic] tonight. Try dressing like a normal woman.”
“Doesn’t KGW pay you enough for a wardrobe makeover?”
In response, Vespa wore five different high-waisted pants during separate newscasts throughout the following weekend, sparking a conversation regarding the policing of female bodies on Vespa's Facebook page.
On September 8, Vespa addressed the man’s comments on-air.
“This is dumb," Vespa said of Jeffery’s message.
"We know that. These are my pants. I like them. I bought them.
"The thing is, I posted about this on social media and it really hit a nerve with people. Hundreds are sounding off about the pressure that women obviously face, especially those in the public eye, to embody the epitome of physical attractiveness at all times.
"If we don't, it's somehow seen as a sign that we're less credible, or less capable, and by and large, guys don't have to deal with this, as my awesome male coworkers can and have attested to."
Commenters agreed with Vespa regarding this inequity.
“I’m am evening anchor who’s not a size 2 and have been criticised for my weight many times...” Erika Thomas, an evening anchor with 5NEWS, commented.
“Just last week, I got a lovely email telling me that a chiffon blouse and black slacks (when 99% of the time I wear dresses) were ‘unprofessional’ and I should dress differently if I wanted to be ‘taken seriously’.”
Another person wrote: “Thank you for posting this! The pressure that society puts on girls and women is ridiculous and harmful.”
Vespa's mother, who worked at as a news anchor in Peroria, Illinois, also sympathised with her plight.
“She talked about getting horrible, toxic comments from people and unbelievably sexist things that make [Jeffery’s comments] look pale in comparison,” she told the Washington Post.
Vespa said on-air anybody could dress and look how they wanted.
"And if anyone tries to make you feel less than because of that, that's their problem, not yours. In other words, there is no one way for a normal woman to look or be,” she said.
“Ten years ago I would have needed someone to remind me of that, now I'm very comfortable to let it roll off my back while I wear my high-waisted pants.”
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