Among TV meteorologists, it is known as “The Dress.”
Not that dress -- the one that made its way around the Internet in February with lots of people debating the garment's true color. This is a new one.
The dress was rated a bargain a few weeks back by Dallas, Texas, TV meteorologist Jennifer Myers. She rated it on a Facebook page where female weathercasters discuss their jobs. (She learned of the dress from Bree Smith, a meteorologist at KSDK in St. Louis, Missouri.)
And she posted a photo of “The Dress.”
“I bought today’s dress on Amazon for $23,” Myers wrote on Facebook. “Someone posted a link to it on our broadcast meteorologist group Facebook page and it got really popular.”
Then, something amazing happened. Women meteorologists by the dozens brought the dress and wore it on television.
Myers posted a montage of more than 40 weathercasters from across the United States wearing the dress.
Meteorologists said the dress had great appeal. It is fashionable and comes at a low price. Affordability is important because the vast majority of weathercasters and TV news reporters do not get a fashion allowance, some meteorologists said.
Lyndsay Tapases, a meteorologist at WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina, said: “I'm not sure there's an answer to how we are expected to look good on air without an allowance. I think it's more that you just know going in that it's the nature of the job: You're going to need to figure out a way to look professional on air while on a tight budget because that's what's going to be expected of you.”
April Warnecke, a meteorologist for 3TV in Phoenix, Arizona, bought two of the dresses in different colors. She likes the dress for its low price, and because it “looks good” on TV.
Still, it frustrates her so much attention is devoted to how women meteorologists look.
Said Warnecke: “We are in charge of our own wardrobe, and none of us wants to spend most of our paycheck on clothes. We’d also rather focus our time on the forecast and not what we’re wearing. Most of us are degreed meteorologists who put hours each day into forecasting, and yet often the feedback we get from viewers is only about our appearance.”
Some meteorologists used the attention being paid to the dress to raise money for the charity, “Dress for Success.” The charity provides low-income people with the business-style clothing they need for some job interviews.
There have also been several postings on Twitter of an altered photo showing NBC TV weather personality Al Roker wearing the dress.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a TV meteorologist in 2010 was $80,250. Salaries are higher in big markets such as New York and Los Angeles, and lower in smaller markets. In some markets, salaries are so low that meteorologists need second jobs to meet their living expenses, Tapases said.
The discussions on the private Facebook Page for women meteorologists are not all about fashion.
“In the group we discuss fashion and makeup, yes," said Tapases. “But also everything from tips on our computer systems and graphics, how we differently handle our crazy work/sleep schedules, how we make our relationships work with moving around so frequently, potential job openings, and all of the other unique ins and outs of the business.”
The other topics include,Tapases said, “contract negotiations, agents, how to keep ourselves safe as females in the broadcasting business, how to handle viewer hate mail, etc.”
Cheryl Nelson, a freelance meteorologist in Virginia, said the job is not as glamorous as some think.
“Many broadcast meteorologists work more than eight hours a day -- especially during active weather,” Nelson said. “We make our own forecasts and weather graphics. We update the website, social media, weather blogs, etc. Unless a meteorologist is in a top market, we all do our own hair and make-up. ... We have perfected multi-tasking.”
I'm Caty Weaver.
Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
meteorologist – n. a person with a college degree in the science that allows him/her to predict and report on the weather
garment – n. a piece of clothing
bargain – n. something bought or sold at a good price
weathercaster – n. Someone who predicts the weather
fashionable – adj. currently popular
allowance – n. an amount of money that is given to someone regularly or for a specific purpose
wardrobe – n. a collection of clothes that a person owns or wears
paycheck – n. a check that is used to pay an employee for his or her work
charity – n. an organization that helps people who are poor, sick, etc.
altered – adj. change in appearance
median – adj. the middle value in a series of values arranged from smallest to largest
expenses – n. the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something
freelance – adj. earning money by being hired to work on different jobs for short periods of time rather than by having a permanent job with one employer