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April 12, 2019

News Anchor Jana Shortal Breaks the Unspoken Dress Code for on-Air Reporters

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Dress codes can be a pain to follow, especially when you are not comfortable with them. News anchor Jana Shortal realized had a similar experience when she dressed up for her first on-air reporting job in the early 2000s. The worst part is, the unspoken dress code left her feeling uncomfortable in her own skin. 

When Timmy Williams tweeted about how his daughter wore a bowtie to school even after being mocked, Jana could not help but relate with the seven-year-old kid. 

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Like every female news anchor, Jana was expected to wear the unofficial “media uniform” which comprised of high heels, makeup, perfectly sleek hair, and manicured nails. She stepped out of her comfort zone and dressed up as was expected of her, fearing judgment from the viewers. 

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The fact that Jana had recently realized she was gay made the experience worse for her. In an interview, she revealed how she felt to a source. 

“I didn't know anybody in television that was an openly gay woman. So I best keep my mouth shut. Right?”

Jana did what she had to do to fit in, dying her hair blond and wearing jewelry. Her face would be covered with heavy makeup which she loathed. 

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When she started getting comfortable around friends and family, she came out to them. She no longer had to wear pretentious clothes around them. In their presence, an authentic Jana would open up in ties, jeans, and sports coat. 

“At some point, at least for some people if they're in the right community and they have people who love and care about them, slowly but surely, you start to come out.”

After maintaining the feminine style on camera for years, she could finally be her own self in her show “Breaking the News” on NBC’s KARE 11 affiliate station in Minneapolis.

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The station supported Jana as she began dressing up however she wanted. She finally felt liberated after a long period of pretense. 

“I wore a David Bowie T-shirt, a pocket square and a black blazer with curly hair and glasses. And not because it's a look and I'm trying to be somebody. That's what I wear.”

The host was overwhelmed by the viewers’ reaction, who thanked her for showing them that there is a “different way that women can dress.”

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She hopes people can find the courage to openly choose what they want to wear by looking at her. 

“Maybe because of me somebody will watch and say, ‘I want to do that,’” she said. “And they won't think that they have to be somebody else because they saw me.”

Women like Jana inspire people to be comfortable in their own skin. Her courage is a gentle reminder that we should live life in our own terms.

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