Kim Campbell calls sleeveless dresses 'demeaning' for TV broadcasters

Former prime minister Kim Campbell is admonishing female news anchors who wear sleeveless dresses on the air, calling the bare-armed attire "demeaning."

'Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas!' she tweeted Tuesday morning

Campbell faced quick criticism on Twitter, including from Conservative MP Michelle Rempel. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Kim Campbell is admonishing female news anchors who wear sleeveless dresses on the air, calling the bare-armed attire "demeaning."

The former prime minister tweeted her displeasure, saying "bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas."

She faced swift criticism online, with one tweeter pointing out that former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama frequently wore sleeveless dresses.

Campbell replied that she was referring specifically to female broadcasters.

She cited as support an essay by U.S. speaking coach Nick Morgan, who asserts in a blog post that "if you show up in front of us with skin exposed, we're going to think about your body."

He also takes issue with men who wear an "expensive, cool-looking casual T-shirt" for an important speech.

"I am struck by how many women on television news wear sleeveless dresses — often when sitting with suited men," Campbell tweeted on her verified account Tuesday morning.

"I have always felt it was demeaning to the women and (Morgan's blog post) suggests that I am right. Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas!"

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel had her own take on Campbell's tweet.

Most of the online replies took issue with Campbell's unsolicited fashion advice.

"Please be joking, Kim," tweeted one user.

Another pointed out that Canada's first and only female prime minister — who was in office from June 25, 1993 to Oct. 24, 1993 — once bared her shoulders for a provocative black and white photo in 1993 in which she held up a suit of lawyer's robes in front of her body, as if naked.

Again, Campbell replied she wasn't presenting the news at the time.

"Photo was art — juxtaposition of bare shoulders (femininity) and legal robes — (male dominated power structure)," she tweeted.

The controversy harkens back to a similar uproar over female attire on the now-defunct Sun News Network.

That flap erupted soon after the right-wing all-news network debuted in April 2011, with National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin deriding the network's female journalists for dressing like cocktail hostesses in "low cut, sleeveless" attire.

At the time, Luiza Ch. Savage of Maclean's magazine also called the all-news network "Skank TV" in a tweet that was eventually retracted.

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