Women Can't Wear Pants on Fox & Friends, or Any Other News Show Really

Apparently, if you're a female host of Fox & Friends, you're not supposed to wear pants. That's according to Gretchen Carlson, who has been newly crowned with her own primetime show on Fox News but spent years in the trenches of the network with a regular class of brilliants who did get to wear pants. But is Fox really that different from any other show on any other network?


Speaking on Brian Kilmeade's radio show Thursday, Carlson remarked that it was notable that she came to the taping wearing jeans, given that "pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends, remember?" This isn't surprising: Fox has been called out in the past for the specific aesthetic standards that the channel forces upon their always blonde female hosts. An Atlantic article from last year detailed the work it takes just regarding makeup to get the "Fox Glam" look, which remarkably more spackle than CNN or MSNBC.

But perhaps we shouldn't be too hard to Fox, given that it's not like you see a lot of female hosts wearing pants on other networks. The women of the The View wear them fairly regularly, but they're also sitting behind their high-back table. Ellen wears them every single day, but she's Ellen and that's her thing. Occasionally you'll see women on Today or GMA or another morning show wearing pants, but the usual ensemble for any woman in TV news is a bright, jewel-toned dress.

That makes sense when you consider that these people are on camera and their job is partially to look good. You want to catch the viewers attention in a positive way and people like shiny things. (Though female hosts have also gotten ridicule for their outfits, like Ann Curry's "Big Bird" yellow dress.) Katie Couric, famous for her legs, has an entire section on her show's website devoted to her outfits. But you don't see Matt Lauer drifting far away from his grey suits to "catch" viewer attention and keep people watching. We can chalk this up to the societal requirement that women be attractive under all circumstances, but we've also got to give credit to the fact that it's not okay for men to be flashy in their own right. So it should come as no surprise that while the "No pants" rule might be unspoken in the rest of the television, it's the nation's most conservative channel that requires their viewers to be greeted with lots of leg bright and early in the morning.

Former Host Gretchen Carlson: "Pants Were Not Allowed On Fox & Friends" [Media Matters] via Daily Intel



Tangentially related:

When my aunt was in high school in the early 70s, her home ec teacher insisted that the girls wear skirts in her class. If they happened to wear pants to school, they were supposed to bring a skirt and change into it. My aunt (as well as my grandmother) thought that was ridiculous, so my aunt wore pants. Finally, the home ec teacher told my aunt that the next time she came to class not wearing a skirt, she was going to the principal's office. So my grandmother made my aunt a pair of impossibly tiny hot pants to wear in class. My aunt changed into them and strolled into class. The teacher walked her to the principal's office. The principal said he didn't see anything wrong with what my aunt was wearing. The home ec teacher no longer enforced the skirt rule.