THE BLOG
02/23/2018 13:14 EST | Updated 02/23/2018 13:23 EST

Women Should Be Free To Proudly Exercise Their Right To Bare Arms

Women need to support, inspire and empower each other, not attack and question something as trivial as what type of dress, blouse or top we wear.

In the never ending and ongoing debate about how much skin women should show, I was disappointed to see former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell questioning why female broadcasters go sleeveless on air, believing that showing bare arms undermines their credibility. Despite the quick and strong criticism to her Twitter attack, Campbell stood by her convictions, citing Harvard studies that proved her point.

Campbell isn't the first person to weigh in on female broadcasters and reporters' on air appearance and choice of clothing. Women working in media seem to be a popular target given their high visibility.

Last summer, CTV's Your Morning meteorologist Kelsey McEwen, eight months pregnant at the time, was criticized by some viewers for not hiding her pregnant belly enough. One viewer said her maternity wear was disgusting and far too tight. McEwen isn't alone. Ask any female broadcaster and reporter, and most will have at one point during her career received negative, often harsh comments on their hair colour, hair style, weight, clothes, jewellery or make-up.

Why are we so obsessed with how women look and what they wear? Depending upon who you ask, a hijab is not okay, but a bikini is too much. A burka is not okay but a halter top is too much. It begins in elementary school (I recall in grade school being told that the straps on girls' tops had to be at least three fingers wide) and continues on well into adulthood. It seems that women never seem to get the right balance right with someone accusing us of showing too much skin or too little.

Throughout history, women have constantly been critiqued and criticized for what we should or shouldn't wear. And typically, men in positions of power and authority have dictated those norms.

As complicated as we've tried to make the issue, the solution is actually really simple. Wear what you want, what makes you comfortable and confident. It's no one's business but your own. The minute you start censoring your choices based on what others perceive to be right or appropriate is the minute you give up your own sense of power, control and self-identity.

To me, the clothing debate points to society's pre-occupation to paint women as sexual beings. Why are we so afraid to show skin? Why are we afraid of women's bodies? We can't let other people's puritanical or obsessive preoccupations infringe on our rights to make our own choices.

Women need to support, inspire and empower each other, not attack and question something as trivial as what type of dress, blouse or top we wear. There are far bigger issues that need real debate and conversation.

I think McEwen said it best, "Listen, I'm a firm believer that my body and your body is no one's business but your own. Your body is not for anyone to talk about, whether they're talking about your pregnant shape or ... your athleticism, or your hair colour or your skin colour. It's not anyone else's business but your own."