Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Media Moment: "Meteorologist Fired After Defending her 'Ethnic Hair' "


Maybe I'm veering off into more of a race representation topic, but I think this issue is relevant to our broader discussions on how women, specifically their appearances, are more scrutinized than their male counterparts. This moment deals with female news reporters - in this case, a meteorologist who was fired for having short "ethnic" hair that didn't bode well with some viewers. I think the meteorologist's response hits on everything that's right: that it's her natural hair and that it projects a strong, self-embracing message to viewers; that she is actually perfectly healthy and not suffering from cancer; that she doesn't have to conform to one standard of how a woman should appear. But as sensibly and effectively as she does, why should she even have to explain why she keeps her hair in a certain style? It's offensive that she needs to explain, more like, "justify" why she keeps her hair a certain way.

And why do people care so much, why does it perturb them enough to mount a backlash? Of course, one answer would be that many people have become brainwashed to the hegemonically-portrayed woman, as adhering to the fhalt-p model, as one that has long, "feminine" hair. On a side note, I'm surprised - really, more upset - that MSNBC, traditionally a bastion of the democratic base and a more liberal, open-minded type of ethos, did not defend one of its workers. That it caved into firing her instead of standing up for her. I'll put it like this - had this happened at Fox News, or maybe even CNN, I wouldn't have been surprised.

It's also surprising because it called to mind the article we read on Rachel Maddow and how a lot of conservative pundits disparaged her appearance as "unfeminine" and unattractive. Just so happens that Maddow, who also has short hair, works for the same company that this meteorologist was fired from.Yet MSNBC didn't take similar actions against Maddow.

All I can say is that I hope this media event triggers an uproar and that she is redeemed in some way. I'll close with this question: why do you think Rhonda Lee, a black female meteorologist, was fired for having short hair, yet Maddow hasn't come under the same pressures? Are the ethnic, and racist undertones, the difference - that people aren't as accepting to short hair on a black woman as much as on a white woman?

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