Does modesty require victimization? Ask Liberté Chan…

We live in a time when there’s no excuse for anything that happens, and where even when the community identified “victim” says the situation was part of a running joke, it becomes a cause célebre and fodder for plenty of angst-filled diatribes about how broken our culture is. You know, business as usual.

This weekend, KTLA meteorologist Liberté Chan was reporting on the weather for the morning news, covering the 8-9am shift, and part way through her broadcast weekend anchor Chris Burrous handed her a sweater and asked her to cover up as he was “getting lots of mail about your outfit”. Here’s the dress in question:


That caused an explosion of hostility on social media, with calls for Burrous to do the weather forecast one day, for the channel to issue an on-air apology, and far more explicit and hostile responses I won’t republish. Search for @LiberteChan on Twitter if you’re curious.

But here’s what gets me about the situation: Chan admitted it was not her first choice for on-air attire on a Saturday morning, and that, to quote her blog post about the incident, “I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater, I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time.”

So the ostensible ‘victim’ of this incident says it’s a joke and she is not at all bothered or upset about it, but does that mean other people see it in the same light? Of course not. But we now live in such a fragile, victim-driven culture that even when there’s no victim, the networks light up with everyone’s individual angst and their views and beliefs that they then project onto the situation.

How else can we explain silly comments on the Entertainment Weekly report of the incident like “was her weather report accurate, though? That should have been the ONLY thing viewers should have been concerned with.” In an industry that’s absolutely about appearance, a fact that Liberté herself is well aware of. Heck, in her blog post, she says “it’s a visual medium and sometimes your outfit works and sometimes it doesn’t…”

But hey, complaining is so much more satisfying, isn’t it?

Why is this of sufficient interest that I’m writing about it? Because I talk to my girls about modesty with some frequency, particularly my 19yo who is blessed with the dual challenge of being stunning and somewhat naïve about the inevitable churlish male reactions to her outfit and beauty. Am I making her the victim by suggesting that when I see her wearing an overly revealing outfit that it might not be a good choice for an afternoon adventure with the family? Or am I just being a good father?

I know what I think. What’s your say? And, for that matter, what would you say to that question, Liberté?

3 comments on “Does modesty require victimization? Ask Liberté Chan…

  1. I don’t know if the mail he was getting was that there was too much skin or the outfit was too sparkly for that early on a weekend. I’m looking at that and thinking that fabric would make a hangover worse. If she’d worn the same thing, but in a muted solid color…

  2. “But we now live in such a fragile, victim-driven culture that even when there’s no victim, the networks light up with everyone’s individual angst and their views and beliefs that they then project onto the situation.”

    This is spot on. For some reason everyone is looking for a reason to be offended on someone else’s behalf.

    Was the dress inappropriate for the morning weather? All I’ll say is that it looks like she came to her shift after the dreaded morning “walk of shame.” But regardless, I don’t think this should even be a story! And as far as you telling making sure that your girls are modest – well that’s just good fathering!

  3. Yes, Dave, it’s good parenting, to encourage your lovely daughter toward modesty. I did the same with my daughters.

    As for Liberte – she just didn’t choose the right dress, as she admitted. Since she thought the sweater move was funny those who found it offensive are just trolling.

    Having worked in broadcast TV for 8 years I, like her coworker, noticed her unprofessional cammy-strap sundress. He was just helping her out in a fun on-the-air improv moment that morning news shows are hungry for. This modesty intervention should improve KTLA’s ratings awhile as the trolls gnash their teeth and roll their eyes and shout off with his head!

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