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.
I am struck by how many women on television news wear sleeveless dresses- often when sitting with suited men. I have always felt it was demeaning to the women and this suggests that I am right. Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas! https://t.co/plBRrrtqKV
— Kim Campbell (@AKimCampbell) February 13, 2018
“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.
I think dismissing women because of their outfits undermines credibility and gravitas. Wouldn't it be nice if credibility could be weighed by the content of one's work rather than their apparel?
— Chaotic Good in TX (@creeandme) February 13, 2018
“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?”
They should be allowed the freedom of choice. If they choose to bare arms they should be able to. If someone finds this distracting, close your eyes and just use your ears 🙄
— Heather Harrison (@SkibaHeather) February 13, 2018
Ummm…as I read this I am wearing a sleeveless dress (I am a lawyer). Nothing demeaning about a woman wearing what makes her feel comfortable: RT Kim Campbell says sleeveless dresses ‘demeaning’ for TV broadcasters | National Newswatch: https://t.co/bFArZqvCCf
— Kathryn Marshall (@Lawsome_) February 13, 2018
Some Twitter users pointed out that the comments from Campbell are peculiar since the politician has faced criticism herself for showing skin.
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.
Wasn't there a scandal about your bare arm once? pic.twitter.com/7zOoLUaPzB
— Lisa Hepfner (@LisaHepfnerCHCH) February 13, 2018
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.
I don't believe bare arms undermine credibility. Shouldn't the audience be focusing on what is being said & not an outfit? I think people should dress how they are comfortable & what makes them feel confident. Women on tv are criticized every single day, wish it would stop.
— Natasha Pace (@NatashaPace) February 13, 2018
“All due respect to Cda’s 1st female PM, but that comment is stuck in 50s,” Global Toronto anchor Farah Nasser tweeted.
I don’t feel demeaned. All due respect to Cda’s 1st female PM, but that comment is stuck in 50s. Don’t tell me what to wear, no TV exec has. https://t.co/cPkV6o2ztN
— Farah Nasser (@FarahNasser) February 13, 2018
Toronto-based CityTV reporter Ginella Massa also weighed in on the issue.
Maybe we should stop equating women's intelligence/ability to do their job by what they're wearing. 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) https://t.co/70EPqUh1t4
— Ginella Massa (@Ginella_M) February 13, 2018
“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
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.