by Siena Hocking
Photograph: Caterina Turroni/BBC/Lion TV
So, the question is, can you really be too ugly for television?
Nowadays, it would seem that how you look is important if you want to be a television presenter, especially if you are a woman. We are seemingly deluged with images of ‘picture perfect’ women presenting a huge variety of television programmes, but are they offered these jobs because of their knowledge of a particular subject and presenting skills or are they plucked from obscurity because they are ‘easy on the eye’ and would therefore attract a larger audience? Does our obsession with perfection mean we will dumb down programme quality in order to satisfy our appetite for aesthetically pleasing presenters?
Does the same rule apply to men? It would appear not. Women with ‘flaws’ seem to be easy prey for quite a few TV critics, whereas less than perfect men who are a far cry from being Adonises, are apparently exempt for some strange reason. Very rarely would you read that a male TV presenter is too ugly, too fat or too geeky for television; they are accepted for who and what they are, unlike women who are subject to all sorts of unnecessary insults and abuse at the hands of cruel, possibly misogynistic, male TV critics. Perhaps they’re running scared? Mary Beard has reacted to AA Gill’s barbed comments by extending him an invitation to attend one of her lectures because she believes he is frightened of intelligent women and the only way he can cope with them is by insulting them – in her opinion, a sign of male weakness and insecurity.
See also Zoe Dukoff-Gordon's article on the tyranny of body image: