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Ex-Canadian PM says women’s bare arms on TV ‘demeaning’

February 12, 2018
Former Canadian PM Kim Campbell criticises bare arms on newscastersImage copyrightAFP/Getty Images
Image caption Former Canadian PM Kim Campbell criticises bare arms on newscasters

A former Canadian prime minister has said that female television newscasters who show bare arms “undermine credibility and gravitas”.

Kim Campbell, who served briefly as prime minister in 1993, came under fire shortly after her tweet on Tuesday.

Ms Campbell included a link to a blog post that suggested people who wear more clothing are viewed as smarter.

She said the blog post proved she was right to think it was “demeaning” to go sleeveless on television.

Her tweet pointed to a blog post by US communication coach Nick Morgan, who referenced a study suggesting people are seen as smarter when they cover up.

Twitter post by @AKimCampbell: 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! Image Copyright @AKimCampbell@AKimCampbell

“Apparently, we humans are pretty simple creatures. If you show up in front of us with skin exposed, we’re going to think about your body. If you’re wearing lots of clothing, we’re going to think about your mind,” he wrote.

He told readers preparing for a public speech to “think about what this means when you put on that sleeveless dress, women, or that expensive, cool-looking casual t-shirt, men. It means you’re going to look less brilliant than if you covered your arms”.

Twitter post by @creeandme: 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?Image Copyright @creeandme@creeandme

People who commented on Ms Campbell’s tweets were quick to point to women like US former first lady Michelle Obama, who often wore sleeveless dresses.

Ms Campbell responded, saying that Ms Obama “doesn’t read the news”.

Twitter post by @MichelleRempel: I firmly believe in the right of Canadians to bare arms. Image Copyright @MichelleRempel@MichelleRempel

Some Twitter users posted a famous black-and-white portrait of Ms Campbell.

In the photo, she provocatively holds up lawyers robes on a hanger, offering a peek of her bare shoulders.

“Photo was art- juxtaposition of bare shoulders (femininity) and legal robes -(male dominated power structure),” the former PM tweeted.

Twitter post by @MeehanCarolAnne: I always wore long sleeves and jackets on the anchor desk. I felt professional. New bosses came in with a wardrobe consultant and threw out the rule book. Told to dress more like Michelle Obama. More current, less stuffy I was told.Image Copyright @MeehanCarolAnne@MeehanCarolAnne

Ms Campbell said she “was just struck by this article and my own sense that women on tv are expected to present a different image from men”.

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