TV meteorologist pushes back against viewer who lobbed 'back yard' insult
By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
July 18, 2019, 9:11:35 AM EDT
Trolls are nothing new in the broadcast news industry and their constant presence can be a difficult aspect of the job for on-air TV personalities. One broadcast meteorologist recently responded to a troll who criticized her wardrobe, and used her platform to shed some light on the harsh realities of being a woman in the broadcast news industry.
“Oh, and tell your female weather forecaster that we have seen all five of the same dresses,” one viewer wrote to local news station WTVM, referring to meteorologist Lauren Linahan. “How backyard[sic] can you get!”
While some broadcasters may have chosen to ignore the cruel comment, Lauren Linahan, the morning meteorologist for WTVM in Columbus, Georgia, chose to stand up for herself. Linahan, a 30-year-old Georgia native, took to Facebook to respond to the viewer and expose readers and viewers to some of hurdles female broadcasters face each day.
“Since there appears to be some confusion on this matter, I am the sole proprietor of my on-air wardrobe. I don’t have a stylist (lol [laughing out loud]) and no allocated wardrobe allowance. Any dress you see me wearing on-air comes from my own hard-earned money or a generous gift from my family (thanks, Mom!),” Linahan wrote in the post on Tuesday, July 9.
Linahan corrected the disgruntled viewer's “all 5 of the same dresses” claim, saying she has collected more 100 dresses during her years in the TV business. However, she said this is a fact she is “not proud of” because “nobody needs 100 dresses.”
Depending on the size of the TV market and the station, some meteorologists are required to pay for their own wardrobe out-of-pocket. Typically, stations in smaller and mid-size markets do not provide a budget for broadcasters' on-air wardrobe, according to Linahan.
Most of her after-taxes salary is spent on bills and paying off student-loan debt. Therefore, she doesn’t have “the luxury of frequently buying more dresses to add to my already ridiculously overwhelming inventory of on-air clothes.” And dry cleaning her on-air outfits is not cheap, she added.
“My situation is not unique; this is the reality for most women in the TV industry,” Linahan said on Facebook. "Even [ABC News Chief Meteorologist] Ginger Zee doesn’t have clothes provided for her on Good Morning America!"
Zee is one of the most prominent broadcast meteorologists in America, and is also known for her stylish -- and seemingly extensive -- wardrobe. When one fan tweeted just this week, that he would love if Good Morning America would do a television segment on Ginger Zee’s wardrobe, noting "the outfits are beautiful," the comment drew a response of the GMA meteorologist.
She responded on Twitter to his questions about her stylist, her wardrobe budget, and what happens to the outfits after she wears them. Zee said, "We do not get a budget or wardrobe provided. I hire a stylist to rent clothing for me. Big expense but a huge part of the job."
She said in another tweet that she loves being able to rent the clothes, so she can avoid being wasteful.
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Wardrobe aside, Zee sets a great example of how to respond to hurtful feedback from viewers. Linahan looks up to Zee as someone to emulate and invokes Zee's motto: "Kill them with kindness and recognize that most people who make rude comments are probably facing their own internal struggles."
While Linahan said she was not offended by the negative message, she knows that the same criticism could be hurtful to other women in her position, especially those just starting out in the industry. In an email to AccuWeather, Linahan pointed out that most young journalists are still working on building up a thick skin.
"The big message I think others in the news industry can take away from this is to understand that the mean comments from a stranger often say more about them than you," Linahan said.
From her own experience, Linahan knows the challenges of starting a career in journalism.
Linahan has about four years of on-air experience. She previously worked as a meteorologist and reporter at WTVY in Dothan, Alabama, and began her career as a tour guide at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
"It’s especially hard on young women who are expected to have a variety of dresses, but unless their parents are helping to foot the bill, they absolutely do not make enough money to have countless dresses to choose from early on in their careers," Linahan said on Facebook.
Furthermore, Linahan brought attention to the gender divide that exists in the television industry.
“I rarely see criticism like this directed toward my male counterparts, who can get away with repeating suits much more frequently,” Linahan wrote. “But even then, isn’t our forecast more important than how often we are wearing the same suit or same dress?”
Linahan told AccuWeather that she has struggled with depression throughout her life and that "therapy has been a valuable tool" for helping her to understand the motives behind the mean comments.
Linahan has developed other strategies for battling depression, such as repeating a mantra to herself when cruel comments are said to her.
"You are worthy. You are enough," is her mantra, Linahan told AccuWeather. "You never know what someone else is going through. Kindness goes a long way."
Since posting on Facebook, Linahan has received a spate of kind and supportive responses.
"Thank you all for your kind comments! Again, I’m not upset by the comment, it honestly makes me LOL [laugh out loud] at how off-base it is," Linahan said. "What upsets me is that both women and men fresh out of college just starting out in the TV industry make pennies at best, and certainly not enough to pay for a full-fledged on-air wardrobe."
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