A woman journalist working with WREG News Channel 3 in the United States has taken to social media to point out a very important fact: "Journalists are not models or eye candy".
Nina Harrelson who hosts the WREG Daybreak Weekend show on television shared a tweet last Sunday in which she told viewers to quit making comments on her body as she was not supposed to look like "eye candy".
Apparently, Harrelson was triggered after a "complete stranger" told her that she looks "mighty big on TV!"
"FYI - journalists are not models... And I can assure you, none of us want to hear your opinions on our bodies. WE ARE NOT YOUR EYE CANDY," Harrelson write on Twitter and Facebook.
The tweet has over 125,000 likes and almost 10,000 retweets. It also comes amid heated debate on social media regarding how women are "supposed" stop or "should" dress and look in professional, traditionally "male-dominated" spaces in order to be taken seriously.
What Harrelson pointed out is nothing new. In the years since the protracted 2016 Presidential election cycle, women journalists in the US have made a beeline for TV newsrooms with many becoming popular television faces and heading important political, economic, strategic and opinion shows. But despite the rise, women continue to be subjected to double standard when it comes to looks and attractiveness as well as bear the brunt of "casual" sexism (often borderline harassment) at work.
In a 2017 opinion piece on Vox, journalist Allsion Yarrow wrote that when it came to women on Television, stress on appearance and casual comments on said appearance are "part of the job". Thus is most cases, it is difficult for many women to determine if someone crossed a line with a crass, personal remark. Yarrow also wrote that the physical standards and "strict rules" that govern look and appearance were not at all the same for men and women. These rules often restrict women from becoming successful or powerful in the industry as "they get pushed out for not being young enough or thin enough or otherwise not meeting a particular physical standard".
WreG reporter Harrelson followed up the viral tweet by saying that almost nine long years of working in a newsroom had thickened her skin. "But I feel sorry for the young women breaking into news who will have to deal with that kind of criticism, which their male colleagues will almost certainly never face," Harrelson wrote.
Her post sparked a discussion on gender roles and sexism in professional circles, especially the media which is otherwise seen as believed to be a "progressive" field.
The problem with owners of news stations many hire all skinny women like my station but men don’t need to be skinny ! It’s a double standard and it should be substance over looks ! @WCVB it’s an issue I have with this station . I warch news center 10 Providence RI for it!— Debbie 🐝Ahern 🇺🇸 💙🌊✨✌🏽✌🏻 (@savetheturtles2) November 3, 2019
As you say, it doesn't matter what you look like, it matters that you do the job well.Having said that... you look gorgeous on TV and I'm sure you do in real life too!— PS Annie (@PigskinAnnie) November 4, 2019
In the cultural environment we're in, TV cuts both ways by distorting our perception of "normal" with biased portrayals and also literally distorting images of people.— 🍑Urzl Gurzl 🍑 (@urzl) November 4, 2019
Thank you. Women journalists are displayed like eye candy in numerous ways by their bosses. Not saying the audience is innocent, but if the corporation displays people like eye candy, is it the fault of the audience to respond in those terms?— Traveling Ecumenist (@ghm_ecumenism) November 4, 2019