A BBC weather presenter has lambasted the ‘weather girl’ stereotype after experiencing ‘casual sexism and misogyny’.
Sam Fraser, who defines herself as a ‘presenter, writer, comic, and time waster’ on social media, has spoken about being surprised when she initially stepped in as a backup weather presenter on BBC South in 2012.
While Sam was first thrilled by the attention, she rapidly got frustrated, especially after learning that her bum was the focus of an online fan club.
‘I had no idea that, within a fortnight of my first appearance, my bottom would have an online fan club and I’d feature on a social media channel entitled Babes of Britain,’ she has said.
‘At first, I’ll admit, I was flattered…but a little dive into the discussions about me – my chubby arms, muscular calves and other anatomical observations – soon put paid to that.’
When Sam looked up the term “weather girl,” she was astounded by how “fetishised” it had become.
‘It took me to parts of the internet I hadn’t known existed. It opened my eyes to a world of casual sexism and misogyny that is the continuing legacy of the term,’ she added when speaking to the Radio Times.
‘The “weather girl’” as an object of desire is a tenacious and dangerous stereotype.
‘As long as the term is in use, it contributes to a culture of permission to demean, humiliate and objectify,’ she added.
The BBC broadcaster is also a comedian, and in her 2018 Edinburgh Fringe performance, Stand Up, Weather Girl!, she explored the term.
She’s also looking into it further in a new Radio 4 documentary called Scorchio! The Weather Girl’s Story.
Sam went on to explain how weather presenters were more than just “dolly filler,” with many being certified meteorologists who had worked for organisations such as the Met Office, the RAF, and Nasa.
‘At its heart, the role is one about communication. The best meteorologist won’t automatically be the best communicator,’ she said.
‘Presenting the weather is about telling a good story.
‘Most viewers aren’t aware that we ad-lib without Autocue, while also taking direction in our earpiece, ready to fill an extra thirty seconds. It’s a job which requires high-level brain functioning.’
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This week she also explained how the project was a ‘teeny triumph’ in the ‘midst of a difficult year personally’.
‘Many pals have supported my comedy and know that one of the things I have explored through it is the experience of the “weather girl”.
‘I hadn’t understood til I did the job myself just how loaded the term is, how it’s used to undermine credibility and to objectify and sexualise.’
She went on to thank the ‘amazing women who battle this stuff every day’.