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Sexism in the media must be addressed


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Apparently what a woman is wearing is more important than her mourning of a loved one.

On Tuesday 27 June, the Daily Mail published an article about media personality Carol Vorderman’s first television appearance since the death of her mother. However, instead of focusing solely on the grief she is going through, the article placed much of the focus on the way that Vorderman looked, specifically what she was wearing.

By the second sentence of the article, Vorderman was described as being “stylish” in her “form-fitting blue jumpsuit.” Her outfit was described before it was even stated that her interview was with Good Morning Britain. This implies that what a woman is wearing is more noteworthy than her work, which is, of course, never the case.

The Daily Mail continues on about her outfit, describing that her “peep-toe heels added to the look” with her “smart black handbag.” Readers get a fantastic sense of her wardrobe, yet find out very little about her actual interview. There are some quotes about her mother’s death included, but get lost among the many pictures focusing on her outfit.

There are a total of 12 pictures showing off Vorderman’s outfit and exactly one of her with her late mother. These pictures have captions such as “Looking good.”

The title of this piece says Vorderman “commands attention” with her outfit. Was Vorderman thinking of what outfit would command the most attention, when she is still getting over her mother’s death? Probably not, but it is not for me or anyone else, including any media publications, to make that assumption.

This article is a prime example of sexism in the media. Gender aside, this is never an okay way to discuss someone’s grief. By focusing on her looks, they have taken away from the severity of the situation and the difficult period of mourning Vorderman must be going through.

This woman has just lost her mother, is getting back into work and all that the Daily Mail wants to focus on is the way that she looks.

Are these 12 pictures of her outfit relevant to her grief? No. These pictures are not even relevant to why she was there doing an interview in the first place — to promote the Pride of Britain Awards, a detail that was briefly mentioned in this Daily Mail piece. Then, factor in gender and the fact that she is a woman and the situation becomes more complicated.

Would a man receive this same treatment? Most likely not.

Men’s appearances are not focused on in the media nearly as much as women’s appearances are. A woman’s outfit is almost always noted and a woman stepping out without make up on can warrant a headline on its own.

There is something wrong with this picture. Men are taken more seriously by the media regardless of the circumstances, whilst women are defined by how they look.

According to the media, and in this case specifically the Daily Mail, a woman’s appearance comes before anything else, including her career and her grief. This needs to change.

Women and men need to be treated equally in the media. This, of course, is easier said than done, but there are steps that can be taken to work towards this.

Focusing less on what a woman is wearing and more on her career is more than a big enough step forward. The Daily Mail could have easily written a piece solely on Vorderman’s first TV appearance after her mother’s death without bringing in her looks.

A woman’s appearance is really what this all comes down to. It is too much of a defining factor for women in the media. This is what needs to be tackled to make significant progress. When will the media realise a woman is not defined by her looks?     

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