Erin Andrews and the ugliness of judging beauty
Twice in the last month, readers who were unhappy with my posts on another web site went out of their way to email and tell me that I was ugly.
The first time I responded by joking that I didn’t like my picture, either. The second time, I wrote the emailer that I didn’t deserve the cheap shot, to which he (or she) responded, “If you don’t want comments about your appearance, take down your picture. Nobody would care what you look like if you didn’t put yourself out there like that.”
I was reminded of that when I read about Erin Andrews, the beautiful ESPN reporter whose privacy was violated recently when a peeping tom videotaped her while she was naked in a hotel room. The video wound up on the internet and now her attorney is trying to find the culprit while threatening those who post it.
Some are trying to put the blame on Andrews, pointing out that she has profited greatly from her appearance. Therefore, the argument goes, she should have to put up with this kind of invasion because she asked for it “… by putting herself out there like that.”
So Andrews is punished for being pretty. But somehow she deserves it, because everyone assumes the only reason she was hired by ESPN was her appearance. What people don’t realize is that puts Andrews in a position no male reporter faces on a daily basis: She has to prove herself on every assignment to demonstrate that she is more than a beautiful stand-in for a real reporter.
And at the same time, I am punished for not being pretty. Despite more than 20 years of experience as a sports reporter, I would never be considered for a job like Andrews’s precisely because of my appearance. Even as a print journalist, I face readers who can’t look past my picture to judge me by my words.
It’s 2009. Why are women still being treated like this?