Hair-brained critics offer stars free advice

“If it’s not collagen then please use a new make-up artist”: Criticism sent to Sky presenter Jacinta Tynan. Photo: Ellis ParrinderThe face matters, as does the decolletage, although the critic will generally deploy a far less polite term when referring to it. Body weight is obviously crucial, as is the choice of the presenter’s clothes. But for women on television, it seems, it’s mostly about the hair.
Nanjing Night Net

In what looked almost like a lady-conspiracy but was more probably a zeitgeisty coincidence, two high-profile television journalists, the ABC’s Annabel Crabb and Channel Nine’s Lisa Wilkinson, spoke out over the weekend about the abuse they cop for their appearances, whenever they dare to commit an act of journalism on television using their actual faces and bodies as vessels for communication.

Despite being two of the nation’s most likeable and intelligent female journos, they are beset by abusive tweets, reader emails, and quaintly, even some letters, about how they look like old boilers/tarts/boilers-dressed-as-tarts/would-be tarts/tarts who have had make-up inexpertly applied to their tarty faces/just stupid.

They are not alone, of course. It happens to all women who appear on TV, and many of the men, too, although the comments tend not to be so acutely focused on their looks. Drum presenter and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Julia Baird has a whole category of comment she summarises neatly as ”creepy sexual stuff”.

Sky news journalist Jacinta Tynan magnetises criticism over her hair, thought by forthcoming viewers to be either too big, too frizzy or fake. During her two pregnancies, Tynan was consistently accused of having Botox on her face or collagen in her lips. Tynan wrote back to one correspondent telling her she had not had either.

”If it’s not collagen then please use a new make-up artist,” the viewer rejoined, seemingly without shame.

Are these women, as some of the reader comments on Crabb’s piece have suggested, simply participating in their own oppression by gussying up for television? Couldn’t they just refuse to wear make-up, or wear the minimal make-up their male colleagues do? Baird notes the former prime minister recently revealed she had her make-up professionally done every morning when she held that office.

”It’s just par for the course and if you do it, you don’t have to think about it, and it prevents a whole other level of criticism,” Baird says. ”It’s part of the job you accept.”

Sky News presenter and host Helen Dalley, who has been on television since the mid-1980s, says she ”gave up a long time ago reading or listening to it all”.

She points out that the make-up gender double-standard applies everywhere, not just on television. But it is women on television who cop the most abuse.

What to do about this nasty aspect of the social media age? As with praise, perhaps it is best to accept criticism only from people you respect. And it’s difficult to respect an anonymous person with a Twitter account and the world-view of a sexually confused Talibani.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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