Earlier this week, Australian TV host Karl Stefanovic won the internet with a genius dig at sexism in the media.
Annoyed by the fact that his female colleagues on Australia’s Today show were constantly being criticised by viewers for their style choices, the presenter decided to wear the same suit for a year to see if anyone would even notice what a male TV star wore on screen.
Turns out, 365 days later, nobody had batted an eyelid.
Speaking about his experiment, Karl said, “Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear… I'm judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour – on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they're wearing or how their hair is.”
The experiment, as well as being funny, makes a brilliant point about the huge scrutiny women face every day – both in and out of the spotlight. Our clothes, our success, our interaction with other men and women – it’s all noted and used to make judgements.
Men don’t seem to face that same criticism, which might seem odd until you consider the fact that it’s mainly women doing the actual judging. Just last week we discussed the fact that women have a chronic problem with being jealous of one another rather than celebrating their successes – and this experiment drives home that point even further.
Not surprisingly, Karl’s co-presenter Lisa Wilkinson says most of the “complaints” she receives about her choice of clothes on air are from other women. And just a month ago, another female presenter, Virginia Trioli, tweeted a picture of a letter she had received from a female viewer insulting her “ageing” outfits and “straggly” hair.
— Virginia Trioli (@LaTrioli) October 9, 2014
If us women are the ones who feel sexism so keenly – in glass ceilings at work, in cat calls on the street – then why do we work so hard to judge other females around us?
With social media at the centre of news and entertainment, it’s never been easier to make throwaway insults about other people. We type out a tweet or Facebook comment and don’t think twice about the impact of what we’re saying, especially when combined with hundreds of other insulting comments from strangers.
If you take away anything from Karl’s experiment, let it be that what somebody wears or looks like should really have no bearing on how you perceive them. Yes, first impressions count, but they shouldn’t have a lasting effect. Life’s about more than a choice of dress or a new haircut.