Knowing what “ridiculous” means in this case, I go to 7. Standing before the Doppler weather screen is a young woman in a black skirt so short and tight that each time she raises her arm to gesture toward that coastal eddy, her hem creeps just a little higher. By the time she gets to the five day forecast, it plays second fiddle to a pair of bronze, gym-tempered thighs.
With a porcelain cheeriness she throws the newscast back to the anchor, leaving me to wonder what I usually wonder when I see a woman dressed like this on a television newscast: how did the producers or directors–whoever has the job of doing so–go about informing the woman that she’d need for her on-air wardrobe some mini skirts, torso-hugging tops, a push up bra, stilettos, perhaps some fishnets and a durable pair of full-service Ho-Hoppers?
Because it’s clearly by design and not sheer coincidence that so many women who present the TV weather report, across the country and around the world, just happen to show up to work day after day dressed like this.
The other question I often have when I watch the weather: how did we arrive at a space in time where the lady who gives the weather on your average TV newscast has to dress like a member of Vanity 6? Are there THAT many men watching the weather?
Granted, I’m from a different day. In the 1960s the local weather person inside our black and white TV was almost exclusively a nerdy white man who looked as if he might have secretly tortured frogs during Chemistry class.
If Oklahoma was under a tornado watch, he’d roll up his shirt sleeves and stay on the air all night. He was serious about his weather and even though I was just a kid, I believed him; the Clark Kent glasses and oversized suit left me no choice.
On the other hand, the “weather girl,” who began appearing on American television in the 1950s, has always been hired mostly for her looks. During modern TV’s first morning news programs, she was recruited mainly to read commercials and look pretty.
Indeed, not every weather girl had the interests of Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer, two respected network news broadcasters who once did the weather (Walters on “Today” in the early 1960s; Sawyer, during the late ’60s until 1970 at WLKY TV in Louisville, Kentucky). Case in point: sex bomb Raquel Welch, once a weather girl for a San Diego TV morning show in the ’60s, who went on to her destiny as, well, a sex bomb.
But the on-air look of today’s weather woman has gotten out of hand. Not all of them–just those who dress as if they should be giving the forecast to the naughty swagger of “Big Spender.”
Consider: cocktail dresses at six AM. Skirt slits that begin at the ear lobe. Summer outfits in the dead of winter. On-air transitions to maternity wear that, in the name of common dignity, should have happened weeks earlier. Really, really bad fashion choices that would make an Ikette refuse to take the stage. You all know who you are–and so do your parents, friends and agents.
Weather womanhood is quickly developing as its own sexy genre, like Rock Star or Porn Star (as in “Man, when we met for our date, she came dressed like a freakin’ weather girl….”). Go online and you’ll find weather girls from around the world with their own sites and fans clubs.
However, the weather woman isn’t alone in her horrific taste. The TV newswoman is not far behind. From local news broadcasts to CNN and seemingly every Fox affiliate in the nation, on-air tawdriness is a trend on the rise.
The time-honored television newscast has long been built on the grand illusion of trust, but it’s hard to trust a woman who seems utterly unaware that she’s sporting a strikingly bad bottle blonde job, too much make-up and a blouse cut way too low to make any sense while reporting the incursion of Syrian rebels or America’s budget crisis.
Here in Los Angeles, one morning I watched a two AM murder report by a woman dressed as if she’d made her way to the scene directly after a night at the club. I tuned into a woman covering a possible arrest in a string of North Hollywood arsons fires. Lady, there are TWO crime scenes here–that burned out Winnebago in the distance and your hideous green and black animal print top.
Sure, I watch. I’m a man. And I’m no prude. But I always end up feeling a little uncomfortable, for the Scantily Clad TV News Woman somehow reminds me of the girl at the mall who tries too damn hard in the direction of too damn obvious and too damn tacky.
Which is a shame, because as broadcasters, some of these women are truly talented. A talent forever diminished by the kind of nipplegate that would make Janet Jackson file suit. Breaking News: When you’re a woman and you have to dress provocatively to do the same job that a man does, this is called sexism. And no one is buying into it more than the TV women themselves.
Meanwhile, male broadcasters, not required to resemble The Rock, have two looks–car salesman and slick Vegas semi-high roller.
After the weather woman’s segment is over, my friend calls back. He speculates that the latest broadcast lust of his life was just standing in for the regular woman, but he can’t be sure.
With any luck, the legs that he gives an eight, might appear again tonight at ten. He ponders aloud where that microphone battery pack ends and her real, honest-to-goodness booty begins. He never mentions weather, but I well know the national forecast: HOT, literally and/or figuratively, with levels of tackiness to vary in your neck of the woods.
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].