Jenna Martin

Liberté Chan: Tempest in an LBD

Approx Reading Time-12An LBD on breakfast television. Scandal. Fashion should be about empowerment, not an avenue for vast sexism. Wake up to yourself, LA.

 


What’s spinning around in the revolving door that is Uptight Morons telling Ladies what to do? Well, this week we have Liberté Chan, a Los Angeles weather presenter who went on breakfast telly in an LBD (“little black dress,” for the uneducated) and was promptly handed a cardigan by a male colleague (mid forecast, mind) and told to “cover up.”

Apparently the station had been “getting lots of emails” about the inappropriateness of her frock.

For the record, I’m not blaming the guy. Chan has since spoken out about the whole thing and re-iterated that she loves her job and her co-workers and she was just playing along with his joke. And tbh, you can tell by his tone that he finds it as dumb as she does. No, I’m blaming all the lamebrains who had nothing better to do than sew together an almighty shitstorm of stupidity out of a few sequins and a bit of black thread.

Let’s begin by addressing the fact that this whole thing took place on a Saturday morning.

8am on a Saturday morning, to be precise. Who (even the ugliest of internet trolls) has the energy to get angry about hem length at that time of the day?

Maybe if it were mid-week I could excuse the frustration. When you yourself are struggling to find anything office-appropriate that doesn’t require ironing and isn’t covered in food stains, and you’re also trying to blow dry your hair, feed stale toast to an infant and inhale a thermos of coffee to keep you going during peak hour traffic, the last thing you want to do is turn on the telly to see a gorgeous weather girl rocking a sexy, tasselled LBD, who seemingly swung by work on her way home from last night’s prohibition-themed costume party.

If it had been a Monday, maybe one could argue that jealousy took hold of one’s Twitter fingers. But Saturday is a day when anything goes. If you don’t want to get out of your sweatpants all day, you don’t have to. If you want to don your finest frock and hit the town knowing you have a whole ‘nother day to recover, you can do that too. What is wrong with the people of the greater Los Angeles area?

It’s a Saturday. Go for a walk. Go have a leisurely vegan brunch. Or better yet, turn off the damn telly, go back to bed and have morning sex.

But again, let me reiterate: this happened in LA.

This wasn’t Kentucky or Birmingham or Wagga. (Nothing against Wagga.) What is happening to the world when folks in Los Angeles think sparkles are inappropriate brekkie TV attire?

I lived in LaLa Land for a year. It’s not a normal place. There was a guy down the hall who had a pet bat (his name was Bryan). I knew a girl who was convinced she was a slave in a past life, hence why she needed weekly acupuncture (because the wounds of daily lashings last lifetimes, apparently). If you wore a smart shift dress to work one day, the next you wore go-go boots and a sequinned leotard. Casual Friday meant yoga pants and you might decide to chuck on a bra. This is not a town which plays by the rules – of fashion or anything else. If you want to spend your whole day by a rooftop pool wearing a cocktail dress and drinking martinis you can do that, no one will judge you. If you want to have your chakra read and your yoni mapped and sip kale infused kombucha in a prayer circle at sunrise, you can do that too. And everything in between. LA is a place to let your freak flag fly.

In LA, anything goes and fashion should be part of the forecast. If not there then where, dammit?

But to get serious for a moment, there’s no question that the biggest part of this story is the ridiculous sexism at play when it comes to what women can and can’t wear, be they office workers or TV weather girls. We want women to be sexy, but not distracting. While Today’s Karl Stefanovic can we wear the same suit for a year, The Project’s Carrie Bickmore rarely wears the same top twice. If a lady shows too much cleavage she’s being inappropriate. Too little, she’s dowdy. If her hemline is too short she won’t be taken seriously. If she wears a tailored suit, she’s accused of power dressing. Women can’t win…or can they? Last week, London temp Nicola Thorpe filed a petition with the British parliament after being sent home for wearing smart black flats, not heels, to her job. The petition, if accepted, could make it illegal for companies to enforce certain dress codes on their employees, including heels. It currently has over 130,000 signatures, enough to get it debated in Parliament, which – while impressive – is ridiculous. As Nicola herself said, “We’ve got wars going on! Why are we debating this?”.

I could ask the same of the good people of Los Angeles. There are more important things for Californians to worry about…the drought, for example. And the apparent “Big One” earthquake that seismologists say is imminent. Not to mention President Trump.

There are more important things for all of us to worry about, like actually addressing honest-to-God sexism. But that starts by acknowledging that a woman is just as impressive in sandals as she is in stilettos and that forcing a cardi on a weather girl won’t make her forecast any more accurate.

It’ll just make her uncomfortable.

Fashion should be fun and expressive and empowering, not a restrictive, insulting measure of your ability to do your job.

 

Jenna Martin

Jenna Martin is a writer, producer, dog lover, red wine enthusiast and author of Driving Under The Influence. (Which may or may not be based on her own life and her enthusiasm for red wine)

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One Comment;

  1. Arthur Baker said:

    I am male. I fully understand, and sympathise with, Chan’s issue and Nicola Thorpe’s petition. But how would it play out if a male employee fronted up to his office wearing a singlet? I have often thought about this during a hot Australian summer when I was required to wear a suit, shirt, tie, long trousers, socks and proper shoes, and the women in my office were allowed to wear strappy numbers, bare shoulders, short skirts, bare legs etc. It’s not that I wanted to wear women’s clothing. I just wanted not to have to sweat in my regulation business clothes. Just like the women around me.

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