Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talked about infrastructure, drinking water, and LGBT rights during her State of the State address on Tuesday, but a good number of viewers were apparently hyperfocused on something else: the cobalt blue dress she was wearing. And, per the AP, a segment on Detroit TV station FOX 2, along with an article on its website, decided to air those reactions to her attire, many of which railed on her appearance in general (there was an observation she should've worn a suit instead of a dress) or were even crude and sexist. One of the first people to push back was Whitmer herself. The story "was way out of line," she tweeted. But "I'm tough, I can take it," she said, adding she'd been teased about her body since she was in grade school and that her mom had always told her to "hold your head high" and ignore the taunts.
"In an era when so many women are stepping up to lead, I'm hoping people will focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance," she continued. Per the Detroit Free Press, the station's news director defended broadcasting the piece: "We chose not to ignore the comments and to instead examine them through person-on-the-street interviews and an expert's opinion on the double standard faced by female leaders." A leadership coach says that Whitmer likely would've faced criticism on her clothing no matter what she wore, and that we can expect more of this now that multiple women have announced their candidacy for the presidency in 2020. In the meantime, a parting message from Whitmer on Twitter to "all of the women and girls like mine who have to deal with garbage like this every day: I've got your back." (Read more Gretchen Whitmer stories.)