Hannah Storm is cute as a bug. Petite, fit, great "stems" as BleacherReport.com puts it, and a nice smile. She's good at her job and a pleasure to watch.
(I recognized her charm when I saw her interview Liam Neeson. Ms. Storm could hardly conceal her attraction to the actor. It was endearing---and not a bad interview.)
A small media hubbub has erupted this week after one of her colleagues, the always noxious Tony Kornheiser, recently tore into Storm on air for the clothes she was wearing that day. He suggested her clothing was too tight, too revealing and inappropriate for her age.
She looked fine, attractive, feminine. But, even if you didn't agree with her sartorial choices that day (red high boots, plaid skirt), she was hardly inappropriate in the manner Mr. Kornheiser's hysterics suggested. Her clothes were not as tight as a "sausage casing."
I worry, of course, that women spend inordinate energy on their appearance and staying thin, and I know that our media culture can be cruel if they don't. Indeed, as Kornheiser here demonstrates, that same culture can be punishing if women do care about their appearance. And this is the bind women find themselves in daily.
Mr. Kornheiser's hypocrisy here is visible from space: Ms. Storm works for a station devoted to sports and specifically marketed to men. ESPN prides itself on featuring attractive, slim, thoroughly glamorous female personnel. (Sadly, the same cannot be said of the men.) Breck girls all, they wear clothes that fit and flatter and sport glamorous do's as they interview (mostly male) athletes and celebrities.
But the more salient feature of this essentially meaningless media event is that while Ms. Storm is being discussed for how she looks, Mr. Kornheiser is garnering attention for what he said. That's the true offense of ESPN, women reporters are exploited, sprinkled throughout their coverage for spice and decoration; men are employed for expertise and commentary.
Dr. Bean is an Associate Professor of English at Marshall University, specializing in Gender Studies, Film and Drama. She is the author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland & Co. 2007). She is Women and Media (more...)
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