Kamady Rudd wakes up at 2:30 A.M. every morning. She makes her way to the local news station where she works in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and begins her newscaster makeup routine: foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, fake eyelashes, brow makeup, contour powder, blush, and lipstick. Rudd, 31, says that makeup isn’t so much a choice as a requirement of her broadcasting job, where female newscasters still face pressure to look ‘polished’ in all circumstances. The idea is outdated but persistent.
But recently Rudd came across a study on how women’s appearances affect their perceived competence and came up with a plan. For one week, she’d opt out of doing her hair and makeup for TV. She expected the negative comments to come rolling in, but by the experiment’s end, Rudd says that her expectations were blown away.
“The first day I was a little nervous,” she tells Glamour. “I even mentioned it to the comedians I was interviewing. They acted like they didn’t notice and it wasn’t brought up again.” Her viewers also didn’t care; in fact, many of them loved it. “I expected to get some nice insults, if that makes sense,” she says. “The ones like, ‘We love your energy, but you look like you’ve been really tired.’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. A woman messaged me on Facebook—she noticed I’d been wearing no makeup for a few days and complimented it.”
View on Instagram
Because of the experiment, Rudd says she feels more confident in society’s views on women. “Either people say they didn’t notice, or say they noticed but were able to acknowledge ‘Huh, she isn’t wearing makeup’ and move on,” she says. “I think that says something really good about people.”
Throughout her career, Rudd says, her appearance has been a constant negotiation between herself, news directors, and agents. That’s the norm. In broadcasting, your work often still comes second to how you look. “The work from your r´esumé reel will only be looked at if you make it through the first round, which is, do they like what you look like?” Rudd says. “I’m proud of the work that I’ve done thus far in my career. Nevertheless, I’ve still heard from potential bosses and agents that it doesn’t matter, perception is everything. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work.”
The experience is universal for women in broadcast journalism. In Glamour‘s March 2018 issue, MSNBC anchor and NBC News correspondent Katy Tur discussed the directives female newscasters are given when it comes to their appearance. “For one of my first TV jobs, I was required to cut my hair, dress a certain way, and wear a certain amount of makeup,” she wrote. “I realized that until I complied, I wasn’t going to get any airtime.”
Rudd says that in her experience, it’s been a mixed bag. Her current job is the first one in which a news director hasn’t asked her to change her hair and makeup, so there has been progress. Still, Rudd says there’s work to be done: “I’ll never forget an email I received once from a viewer—I have it saved and look at it once in awhile for motivation. It says something along the lines of, ‘You should never be allowed to talk about sports. You don’t know anything and judging by that dress you’re wearing I can tell how you got this job.'”
Even now, she says if she were to move on, she’d need a full anchor face to be hired. “If I interviewed somewhere else with little to no makeup, I don’t think there’s any way I’d get the job,” she says. “I was told once, as a woman, never wear a dress to an interview, because you’ll never know how they’ll take it.”
But she remains hopeful that expectations surrounding women in broadcasting are changing. “I hope women, and especially young girls, can look at this and know that they don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time,” she says, adding that she hopes her experiment will help break down some of that pressure. “I really wanted to prove to myself that I could cover a story with as much focus on the actual story as normal, without worrying about my appearance. That is what local news is about. I want to make sure I’m giving people my best effort in the morning, no matter what. It’s all about proving the work we do, and the actions we take, are more important than what we look like. I’m all for makeup, or no makeup. Whatever you want to wear is, and should always be, totally up to you.”
View on Instagram
-The Concept of ‘News Anchor Makeup’ Is Changing—and Katy Tur Is Here for It
-For Women Insecure About Their ‘Big’ Noses, a New Campaign Takes on the Stigma
-Hunter McGrady on Her ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swim Shoot: I Didn’t Feel Like I Had to Hide