This week my newsfeeds have been buzzing with a suit. This isn’t a new creation from a famous designer. It isn’t a celebrity style feature. It’s not a big fashion statement. The suit in question is a blue knock-off Burberry suit worn by Australian TV anchor Karl Stefanovic every day for a year. (Well not quite every day, he did clean it occasionally!)
So what’s surprising about this? The fact that nobody noticed. Stefanovic shared the plan with his co-host Lisa Wilkinson and one other member of the Today show. Yet not a single viewer or producer noticed.
“No one has noticed,” he said. “No one gives a shit.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 17, 2014
What was the point?
Stefanovic started wearing the same suit following repeated criticisms sent to his co-host Wilkinson over her appearance and outfit choices. He recognised what many of us might be aware of already, women are often judged more than men based on their appearance.
Following one particularly harsh letter, Stefanovic decided to start the experiment. Weeks became months and he decided to continue for the rest of the year.
“I’m judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour – on how I do my job, basically,” Stefanovic told reporters. “Whereas women are quite often judged on what they’re wearing or how their hair is. Women, they wear the wrong colour and they get pulled up.”
Why does it matter?
As we strive for a society of gender equality this is one of the factors that just won’t budge. No matter what their role or profession, women are repeatedly judged on their appearance. In the media world, whether that’s music artists or TV presenters, being thrown into the limelight doesn’t mean your talent is on show, its looks that matter.
One of the other interesting aspects revealed was that according to Wilkinson, most of the comments she receives come from women: “I don’t know how we’ve got into that space,” she said.
We criticise men for objectifying and demeaning women based on their looks. As if this isn’t bad enough why are women the harshest critics of other women? If we don’t even notice a male anchor wearing the same suit day in day out, why do we notice every little aspect of a woman’s wardrobe?
Changing this behaviour is the responsibility of everyone. Professional success shouldn’t be determined by your wardrobe. We shouldn’t pick people apart and criticise them based on their appearance. People of any gender should be able to wear whatever they please without fear of judgement. It shouldn’t take stinking out the office in an old suit to make people take note.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments below!