Last month, Mattel launched "Newsanchor Barbie," a 12" career woman in a skin-tight pink-and-black jacket, a ruffled miniskirt, and platforms. Insulting — or too accurate?
Professional crank Liz Jones addresses the issue of newsanchor fashion with characteristic finesse, asking, "They're intelligent, talented - and role models for the young. So why do so many TV anchor women dress like barmaids?" Continues she,
And why does it matter? Can't a woman be a feminist and still shop in Fendi? Can't a woman be in her 50s and still feel the need for a floral, short-sleeved jacket with giant buttons? Well, yes, of course she can, but I don't think she can really tackle anything remotely serious while dressed like a superannuated shop assistant at New Look. For one, I don't want announcements of more British deaths in Afghanistan made by a woman who looks like a WAG.
Jones is cranky, of course, and generally about a hundred times more enraged by things than the average bear, but she does identify a central tension. While all professional women risk the "damned if you're sexy, damned if you're not" trap, it's particularly glaring in the case of women whose appearances are expected to hew to certain standards, yet are tasked with communicating serious stories. One need only point to the hoopla surrounding Katie Couric's wardrobe (she was critiqued for changing it up too often, you'll recall) to be reminded of the pitfalls. Only last month, the issue was called into stark relief when Ines Sainz did interviews in the Jets locker-room and faced comments on her outfit.
Do we admit that news involves entertainment and showmanship? Is such scrutiny unfair, or somehow encouraged — and by whom? When, like Couric, a woman has a certain reputation already, shouldn't that eclipse the need to scrutinize her wardrobe? Or do we hold them to a higher standard of professionalism? All of which comes down to the age-old question: should it ever be a woman's responsibility to not "distract" us? Barbie, at least, is unambiguous: Although given that she appears to work for Barbie News, she's probably in the rare position of making the rules — and has firing power.
News Anchor Barbie: 'A Flair For Journalism — And Power Pink!' [LA Times]
Did Sports Reporter Ines Sainz Show Up Too Sexy For Work? [PBPulse]
Oh, Do Put Them Away! [Daily Mail]