Kindly STFU About Megyn Kelly's Spaghetti Strap Dress

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  • Megyn Kelly
    Megyn Kelly
    American journalist and attorney

From Cosmopolitan

Last night, while she was doing her job and covering the Republican National Convention, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly let viewers in on a little secret: She has shoulders! And *gasp* a collarbone! In what proved to be an incredibly controversial clothing choice, Kelly wore a spaghetti-strap dress during her broadcast, and Fox News viewers were scandalized by the appearance of a grown woman's chest and shoulders on their TV screens.

A lot of people decided Kelly's dress made her look like an escort or like she was wearing a bikini on national television.

Critics of her (perfectly reasonable, not inappropriate) attire included a bunch of riled-up Fox News viewers, as well as New York Times style editor Stuart Emmrich, who thought her dress was better suited for "a pool party" than a news broadcast.

And some people made truly awful references to the recent report that Kelly told investigators that Fox chairman Roger Ailes sexually harassed her in the mid-2000s.

It's not totally clear what about Kelly's dress was so scandalous. My guess is that people who were watching Fox last night would rather assume their female news anchors are just talking heads that float atop gaseous clouds instead of human bodies. Or they would at least rather see Kelly wearing something that more closely resembles a potato sack, which would make it way easier to forget she's a woman - and not a man - delivering their nightly news.

What's so confusing about this sudden outburst of anger is that Kelly has actually proven that she has shoulders in the past. Kelly's shoulders (and, sometimes, even parts of her chest) have made several public appearances.

Here are Kelly's shoulders enjoying the shade of a frilly hat at this year's Kentucky Derby:

Here are Kelly's shoulders having a fun time at the New York Philharmonic's Spring Gala:

Here's just one shoulder peeking out of a one-shoulder dress on Bravo's Watch What Happens:

Oh my! And here they are yet again, looking great on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

So it doesn't seem that the sheer fact that Megyn Kelly has shoulders is what's so alarming to Fox viewers who've been following along with her coverage of the Republican National Convention. What, then, seems to be the matter?

I'll clue you in: It's sexism. Sexism is what's the matter. Critiquing Kelly's outfit for being "unprofessional," or saying it's suitable attire for an escort, isn't productive at all, it's just sexist. The people who are tweeting at Fox and Kelly and urging her not to wear such a dress again are adding to the narrative that a woman is only professional and appropriate when she's thoroughly covered up. It's the same thinking that goes into draconian school dress codes, which are rife with double standards that unfairly tell girls to cover up so boys can pay attention. And just like the girls who are subjected to those dress codes, it's not Megyn Kelly's fault if her choice of attire is too distracting for her viewers. It's the viewers' fault for not being able to take a woman seriously (or even hear what she's saying) unless that woman takes measures to cover her body and pretend it doesn't exist.

Some people are defending Kelly's choice of dress by supposing it might've been hot under all the studio lights. Yes, it's nice to stand up for Kelly and defend her choice of attire. But also - Kelly shouldn't, and doesn't, need an excuse to wear a dress that acknowledges the existence of her shoulders on a news broadcast. Kelly can wear whatever the hell she wants - literally, the show she broadcasts on is named after her. I don't know what all this calamity proves more: the fact that a woman can have her own damn TV show and still get dragged to the far ends of the earth for wearing a dress, or the fact that so many people on Twitter have yet to see a grown woman's shoulders in the wild. Whatever it is, it's all incredibly discouraging and unsurprising. Here's to hoping someone actually does get on Fox News in a bikini sometime soon. It would certainly spice up whatever's going down at the Republican National Convention.

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