Liberté Chan was doing the weather on KTLA's Saturday morning show in a sparkly black sleeveless dress when a person from off-camera handed her a sweater and told her to put it on. “We’re getting emails," the male voice said. Chan donned the gray cardigan and seemed bewildered, saying "I look like a librarian." OK, so it got played around the web and social media as KTLA slut-shaming Chan for looking on the early show a little like she just came in from a night out. But a few things immediately came to mind about that if you actually live in LA and know KTLA.
First, if anything KTLA and the other stations in town seem to want their female weather reporters to push the edge in how they dress, not tone anything down. Second, there was nothing revealing or provocative about the dress. It may have been jarring to viewers used to seeing Chan dress differently, but then again, maybe it actually wasn't. Third, KTLA doesn't exactly play its morning shows straight. There's a lot of joking and unplanned commentary that goes on, and sure enough Chan says in her "personal thoughts" posted Sunday night that she just went along with the anchorman's joke.
For those who missed what happened Saturday, March [sic] 14th, I was wearing a black, beaded sparkly dress and apparently, the station received a slew of negative emails from viewers saying the dress was inappropriate for air.
I’ve worked on-air for 10 years and by now, I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion and you have to have a thick skin to work in this business. It’s a visual medium and sometimes your outfit works and sometimes it doesn’t.
During the 8 am hour, my co-anchor came over and handed me a sweater and said, “we’re getting a lot of emails.” I was surprised since I hadn’t seen any of the emails and didn’t think there was anything that inappropriate (the beads/sequins were probably a little much for the morning, but what girl doesn’t like something that sparkles?!), so I played along and put on the sweater...
To be perfectly honest, the black beaded dress was a backup. The pattern on my original black and white dress didn’t work on the weather wall (for some reason, it turned semi-transparent), so after my first weather hit at 6am, I changed.
For the record, 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.
Chan writes that she has been asked for many interviews about the dress. There has been coverage so far in Variety, Boing Boing, the Daily Mail, Mashable and the usual places that run with whatever clickbait meme is available to meet the quota on a given day — and this was Saturday gold for the pageview slaves.
By the way, Chan posts a pic of the original dress she changed out of on her blog. And on Sunday morning's show, she wears an equally sleeveless dress: no sweater joke, no controversy.
Also by the way, "weather babe" in my headline is not a pejorative about Chan or the other weather reporters and anchors on LA stations. It's an apt descriptive and commentary on how the stations decide, in this era, to package the weather report and market their female weather reporters. It's a shorthand name for the part in the play she and the others are cast in. Chan is on her second stint at KTLA, having returned in 2010. From her page at the station's website:
Liberté earned her certificate in meteorology from Mississippi State University in August, 2015. She also has a master’s degree in Public Health from USC’s Keck School of Medicine, plus a certification in broadcast journalism from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She graduated early from college, spending her last semester studying abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Liberté was born and raised in Los Angeles and grew up as a competitive figure skater and was nationally ranked in both singles and pairs....
Added Monday from an LAT film writer: