Chicago winters are cold. That is an indisputable fact. And while global warming has blessed the people of the Windy City with one of the mildest cold seasons on record so far, standing outside for more than a minute can still send a chill so deep into one’s bones, it almost feels like a touch from the Grim Reaper. In order to avoid a visit from the creepy hooded figure calling from the underworld, layers are a necessity — except if you’re a woman. In that case, surrender your soul, because apparently showing off a flouncy blowout is much more important than deterring hypothermia.
Female reporters on WFLD-channel 32’s Good Day Chicago were asked not to wear hats when on assignment outdoors, the Chicago Tribune reports. This request — nay, requirement — reportedly came from executive producer Dan Salamone, who noted that the women would “look a lot better without hats.” Temperatures in Chicago throughout January so far, on average, are reaching lows of 19 degrees and highs of 35 degrees Fahrenheit, with precipitation.
Fox 32’s Lisa Chavarria reporting outside on Wednesday night with her head uncovered (and every other part of her body bundled up).
While Salamone conceded that an exception would be issued if temperatures dipped to 20 below, the station’s general manager, Dennis Welsh, doesn’t agree. “Of course we want our reporters to be warm and there’s nothing wrong with wearing a hat in Chicago,” he told the paper. “We just want it to be a hat that looks appropriate. That’s what it stemmed from.” He also made an astute observation while looking out at the Midwest tundra from his office: “There are a million great-looking hats. In Chicago, everyone wears hats. I’m looking out my window, which faces an intersection here in downtown Chicago. Every single person crossing the street has a hat on.”
The effort for female meteorologists to look cute in the cold is already a struggle. Stephanie Abrams of the Weather Channel explained to Slate that in snowy weather she takes pharmacy-bought heating pads and wraps and secures them to her body before slipping a wetsuit on. This is all under a suit or a dress, and then she fills a jacket with more heating pads.
Fox 32’s Anita Padilla wearing a hat — yay for feminism! — on assignment Thursday night post-“hat-gate.”
Female news anchors have faced sexism in regards to their fashion for years. Ginger Zee, Good Morning America’s meteorologist, was called out on social media a year ago for looking “ridiculous” and “not appropriate” in “tight leggings and tight tops” and was told she needed a fashion manager. She responded on social media, “Thanks so much for sharing your opinion. No clothing allowance.”
In a day and age when Blake Lively changes her outfit 10 times in one day and celebrity stylists are working overtime to ensure their clients are pictured in plenty of different outfits, on-air news reporters — from national to local stations — are met with similar pressure to wear something new day to day despite limited budgets. Men, on the other hand, aren’t held up to the same sartorial standards. An Australian anchor, Karl Stefanovic, performed a social experiment and wore the same navy blue suit on air every morning for an entire year. “No one has noticed; no one gives a s***,” he said. “But women, they wear the wrong color and they get pulled up. They say the wrong thing and there’s thousands of tweets written about them.”
Ladies of Chicago, there’s a blizzard brewing. Brace yourselves for the storm.