Sexism in the workplace is an open topic of discussion these days and recently we had another questionable case come to light on KTLA during the weather forecast. Meteorologist Liberte Chan was doing her broadcast covering the weather in the greater Los Angeles area when an onslaught of comments from viewers about her wardrobe lead to one of her coworkers handing her a cardigan while she was on air to cover up more.
KTLA is a local channel broadcasting coverage of the greater Los Angeles area. The show is shot in the Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood, and the channel is affiliated with the media giant CW. One of the oldest channels in the country it began in 1947.
Liberte hails from the home base of KTLA, sunny Los Angeles. She has been a full time meteorologist and reporter at the station for a couple of years now and has become very popular with the stations viewer base.
Unfortunately Liberty's popularity did not protect her from going under fire for her choice of outfit. This here is the dress that caused all of the controversy, people described it as looking more appropriate for a NYE party than on public television.
While she was on air her co worker, Chris Burrous, passed her a grey cardigan to cover up her bare arms. Apparently arms are still scandalous? When she was passed the cardigan Liberte seemed confused about why and asked what was going on.
Chris has had a long time career in news broadcasting, and now he is has landed a gig as co-anchor of the KTLA Morning News show during the week. It was while on his weekend coverage of the weekly news that the incident occurred.
When she had put on the cardigan Liberte was clearly not happy with the outfit change and said that she now looked like a librarian. Burrous replied by saying "That works, it's a librarian going to a cocktail party." and then laughed about it.
Some people seem to be taking the outfit of their weather forecaster a little more seriously than they should. The email complaints that lead Burrous to hand Liberte the cardigan were saying things like how she looked 'like she never made it home from a cocktail party' and that she 'forgot to change after her stripper gig.'
As much as some viewers were upset with her choice of dress, even more viewers were upset that in this day and age we are still judging women's work based on their appearance. After Liberte had to put on the cardigan the station and Burrous received a slew of emails and tweets upset they did not back Liberte up.
One such upset viewer pointed out that this was a serious double standard. Five years before a male forecaster had brought women in lingerie out with him to tell the weather and no one had made them cover up or gotten upset at the male forecaster.
This viewers observation brings into question if this is a case of sexism in the workplace. When a man engages in objectifying and risque behavior people just accept it but when a woman wears a flattering, yet still fairly modest dress she ends up under fire. Is that fair?
As it turns out, wearing that dress on screen was never Liberte's first plan of action. Originally Liberte had brought in this black and white patterned dress you can see here, but the dress was too light to be worn on the green screen so she had to change at the last minute.
In the aftermath of people's upset over Burrous handing Liberte that cardigan Burrous has had to speak out about the incident. He says that it was a joking move when he handed it to her, but that he can see how without context it looks bad.
Liberte's biggest frustration with all of this seems to be that it is her wardrobe under scrutiny here, not her job performance. In a live video of the event Liberte can be heard saying "Can we talk about my weather performance?"
In this same live stream a frustrated Liberte turns the camera on her co workers who are wearing fuzzy socks and shorts that are normally hidden behind their desks. This was to show it's not what you wear that matters, it's how well you do your job.
Like a true professional Liberte took this whole incident in stride and kept rolling. She went on air and basically told the viewers to chill out, and next day she was back at work in another great dress, this time with no criticism.