I'm not comfortable with selfies, with pictures of my lunch or my shoes, because I can't understand why anyone would want to see them. I'm a journalist, not a "TV personality.” I was trained to be a conduit for the news, not the subject.
That being said, I'm going to post something I don't usually share: My feelings.
I would rather the focus be on what I'm saying, on my words and their impact on our community, than what I look like while delivering them. I believe the message is important, not the messenger.
Why has it become OK to post comments on social media that people would never in a million years say to someone's face?
During a recent live feed on the KIRO 7 Facebook page about a serious topic (allegations of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers against female passengers), a number of comments focused on my newly-short hair, not the report itself.
"Makes her look old."
“Trying to copy [Megyn] Kelly? Doesn't look good on her, either."
After nearly 30 years in this business, I've experienced much worse than a few verbal jabs. I've been shot at, assaulted verbally and physically, and threatened with violence many times while doing my job.
So, why am I even bothering to share my feelings about trolls and their comments?
What concerns me is what I believe similar comments are doing to women in the news industry. A singular focus on our looks feels degrading to the work we do. Comments about our hair, our wrinkles, our faces, our makeup seem to diminish all that my generation of "older" female journalists did to be taken seriously and measured by our worth not by our looks.
In the 80s when I started in TV news, many of my female colleagues cut their hair in order to be taken seriously. I thought, in 2016, we were beyond that. That we were finally able to dress and look however we choose and still be taken seriously. I was wrong.
I'm very concerned that young and aspiring female journalists might take similar comments to heart and change something about themselves based on the opinions of people they've never even met. They shouldn't. I'm concerned that in an effort to generate more likes and followers on social media, they'll hypersexualize their "brands" to the detriment of all female journalists' credibility; I already see this happening, and it makes me worry about the future of our industry.
I believe our credibility should be more important than our desirability.
Thankfully, I work for a company that values the experience long-time journalists bring to a newsroom.
Whatever my hair looks like, I'm still the same reporter I've always been.