Susanna Reid is a talented and successful journalist: after kicking off her career at BBC Radio Bristol, she went on to work at Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24, BBC Breakfast, Sunday Morning Live, The Andrew Marr Show, and many more.
Nowadays, of course, Reid’s famed across the country for sitting next to toxic misogynist Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain – and calling him out on his vitriolic bulls**t whenever she can. We’ve seen her defend older mums from his ageist twaddle, shut down his body-shaming opinions, annihilate his laughable sexist arguments, and leave him a quivering silent wreck with this perfect put-down.
In short, it’s safe to say that the woman has serious form when it comes to responding to ridiculously anti-feminist views. So, when certain tabloid newspapers attempted to shame her for the salacious crime of, y’know, having breasts, Reid wasn’t about to sit there and take it quietly.
The tabloids in question were, of course, the Daily Star and The Express: clearly suffering from a slow news day, they decided to turn to their televisions for a whiff of a story.
It wasn’t long before they noticed that – shock, horror – Reid was wearing what can only be described as “a dress” during her daily Good Morning Britain stint.
If you’re looking for a few more descriptive terms, we’d suggest the likes of “floral” or “summery”. “Smart” is also a good option, in our opinion.
Hardly news, all the same. Unless, of course, you make it your business to shame women for daring to put clothes – any clothes – on their bodies.
“Susanna Reid flashes serious cleavage in low cut dress on Good Morning Britain,” roared one headline.
Another coyly suggested that the presenter had “left little to the imagination” on the show.
We doubt that either tabloid expected Reid – a highly-capable and experienced news journalist herself, we again hasten to add – to find fault with their non-stories.
So we imagine they were more than a little shocked when, after sharing a screengrab of their stories, Reid decided to fire a zinger into the depths of the internet.
“I’m imagining you’d still have to use a considerable amount of imagination,” said Reid coolly.
Unsurprisingly, her response went down an absolute storm on Twitter.
They probably bought those x-ray specs out of the ads in the Beano.— Louis Barfe (@AlanKelloggs) July 6, 2017
It's amazing to me that these tabloids seem to write about your clothes every day.— John Dabkovich (@JohnDabkovich) July 6, 2017
Imagine the convo in the "news" room.. "really? you want me to write a story about a woman wearing a dress in summer, but it's 2017..."— Rich Rust (@richrust) July 6, 2017
ooh I bet she is showing a bit of ankle under that desk as well, positively filthy.— Charlie (@ActiveSparkles) July 6, 2017
I love how cleavage is in capital letters. It's like a kid in the throws of puberty spat it at the screen.— ⚡️Shellie⚡️ (@whhhhaaaa_tha) July 6, 2017
Of course, Reid is not the first woman to be attacked by cleavage-shamers – and we doubt she’ll be the last.
Last month, Delta Goodrem sparked an online storm when she dared to wear a cut-out aubergine dress on The Voice. Earlier this year, Brie Larson – aka Captain Marvel herself – was raked over the coals for daring to wear a V-neck top on The One Show.
And, elsewhere, fashion experts have claimed that “the cleavage is over” – the idea being, presumably, that women everywhere would shrug off their unfashionable mammary glands, fold them away into a drawer, and wait for them to be ‘on trend’ again. You know, the same way that leggings came back.
Most jarringly, though, was the unapologetically sexist approach that some media outlets took to a recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Stripping away all the meaning and importance of a scene – which saw both Elisabeth Moss (Offred) and Max Minghella (Nick) remove items of their clothing – papers failed to comment on the fact that the episode was intended to be thought-provoking, to spark conversations about consent, to encourage debate about our sexual urges and to redress the balance of power.
Instead, they decided to reduce the heroine down to nothing more than her physical form. We saw them comment on Moss’ “pert bottom”, “acres of auburn hair”, and the “full-frontal nudity”.
It’s quickly becoming apparent that certain misogynists would prefer it if women all over the world donned the shapeless, red robes worn by Offred and her fellow handmaids. That much is clear from the vile and sexist dress codes in place all over the world.
We’ve seen teenagers ordered to cover up their “distracting” collarbones at school, university students ordered to show their cleavage at graduation, 12-year-old girls being banned from wearing vest tops in the height of summer, women being told that their belly buttons should never be visible whilst at the gym, women being ordered out of their own apartment’s swimming pool for wearing a one-piece swimsuit, and so many more.
Yet, despite all of this, we – just like Susanna Reid – will continue to speak up, speak out, and make our voices heard. Because if a flash of skin offends you, or gets you feeling over-excited, that really isn’t our problem. Because we’re autonomous human beings. Because our bodies are our bodies. And because, most importantly, we have the last say on how and if and when we choose to cover them up, thank-you very much.
Images: Rex Features