Among the missteps I’ve had the misfortune of taking in my life, two years as morning face on the brashly conservative (or, rather, Conservative) Sun News Network has to be way up there with getting bangs when what’s-his-name dumped me.
You can see that profound unhappiness reflected in the above photo, taken the morning Sun News came on the air for the first time, in the spring of 2011. I did not want to be there and I couldn’t make myself feel otherwise. I’d given birth to my third child eight months prior, and my two other kids were four and two. I was homeschooling them, too, while pretending the renovate the house. And the cottage. In the middle of that I tried — mostly unsuccessfully — to write my own books.
I was also a fierce athlete, having earned a second-degree black belt in karate between kids #1 and #2, on my way to earning a third degree black belt in 2016 and becoming world champion in fighting in 2017 and 2018.
I looked tired for a reason. But as you can also see from the picture, I chose clothes that I thought helped me look marginally less dead. Everything had to have sharp angles so you wouldn’t notice I was held together with caffeine, kinetic tape and military-grade concealer.
I picked my wardrobe based on how I felt in the clothes, and how forgiving they were to the body of someone who’d grown and pushed three brand new humans through, well, pushed them out somehow.
Plus I fucking hate cocktail dresses. I threw out my last LBD well over a decade ago and I’ve no plans to acquire another one. Call me cocky, but even though I think I look pretty good for a 52-year-old perpetually exhausted pigeon, I want my best asset to be what’s between my ears, not what’s squeezed out in all the sexy places by spandex and push-up bras, thanks very much.
That’s a long-ass way of saying I wasn’t one of the people responsible for the station earning the moniker of Skank TV.
I don’t feel comfortable being on television with my shoulders bare, in great part because I have big and muscular shoulders and am not keen to parade them outside a pool or a gym. But my own sartorial preferences do not entitle me to dictate what others should wear in public. If looking sexy in a tight dress makes you feel good about yourself, that’s precisely what you should wear. Feeling sexy can be extremely empowering.
Would that Missouri legislators understood this basic concept, and also the bit about not being dictatorial. They’re currently debating a bill, introduced by a Republican woman, that would ensure women in the legislature wear some kind of jacket or cardigan because [faints, vaguely clutching at pearls] we can’t possibly guess at the contours of your scapula. What if the sight of your triceps is enough to make a poor innocent man burn — or worse, itch — with lust?
I think someone forgot to tell Missouri’s best and brightest [sic] what century it is outside. Oh, and also? That woman who introduced the bill is the perfect example of female toxic masculinity. Someone who wants men in charge, telling women what’s appropriate for them or not.
That bill is also anti-democratic. The electors picked their representatives as persons with their own quirks and habits. Nobody in that state voted for some bullshit arbitrary dress code.
What matters is the work people do. Not what patch of skin they display.
Back to Sun News. At the time of the controversy, a host was interviewing Jack Layton (a few months before his death) and Olivia Chow. The interview was about something political, but somehow up came the topic of skanks and sleeves the absence of which gave some poor souls the vapours and Chow, being a boss, didn’t waste a second removing her jacket to show her bare arms and shoulders on live TV. Husband Layton, being no less of a boss, had pride bursting out of his skull, applauding her fiercely.
That’s what you do when you support the right of everyone who’s not male to decide for themselves what constitutes appropriate behaviour and demeanour. I’ve been scouring the interwebs for a clip of that episode, which I saw live, but I wasn’t able to find it. If you come across it, please let me know.
In any case, be like Chow — and Layton. Support the right of everyone to dress however they like. And smash that toxic patriarchy already.