Maggie Vespa was checking her messages on the KGW reporter account when she found a message from a Facebook user. The sender had asked her to “dress like a normal woman.”
This message referred to Vespa’s recent pictures on her social media accounts. The pictures featured her dressed in five different high waist pants. She had worn the pants during the five different newscasts she had during the weekend.
Vespa has worked in broadcast journalism for nine years, and she has received her fair share of criticism from viewers and her social media followers. This time, however, she decided to respond. On KGW’s late night news on Sunday, she made an on-air commentary about the message. In a phone interview on Monday, she stated that she had sought the support of her managers prior to the commentary. They gave her the go-ahead.
In her commentary, Vespa said, “I’m a pretty secure person but 10 years ago this would have rattled me. I probably would have stopped wearing whatever that guy was criticizing and I would have gone out there with my minuscule paycheck and tried to buy some more clothes and tried to adjust. I remember that time, and I just thought if someone is starting out and getting comments like this, me calling it out for what it is might make it easier for them.”
Greg Retsinas, the KGW News Director, stated, "Our on-air folks do hear it all, the good, the bad and the mean, and they take it all in stride. And sometimes, it deserves a good rebuttal. Maggie Vespa stood up for many in our industry with a thoughtful commentary. She stayed on the high road but she said what needed to be said."
The viewer had sent Vespa two messages before she decided to block him. In her on-air commentary, she declined to mention his name, and even had it blacked out.
In one message, he told her that the pants that “ride half-way up your torso” made her look ridiculous. He continued, “Please change your wardrobe. You’re way too pretty to look so foolish.”
When she replied that she wouldn’t change her clothes, he wrote back on Friday; “OMG you really looked uncomfortably (sic) tonight. Try dressing like a normal woman. Doesn’t KGW pay you enough for a wardrobe makeover?”
Vespa’s mother had worked in Peoria, Illinois as a news anchor, and Vespa showed her the messages.
“She talked about getting horrible, toxic comments from people and unbelievably sexist things that make this look pale in comparison. So I just thought, ‘Let’s say something,’” Vespa stated.