Kathy Griffin’s ‘Fashion Police’ Exit: Body Shaming Is Going out of Style

The award-winning comic implied she quit because she’s fed up with the show’s often cruel approach.

Kathy Griffin. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for 'Nylon')

Mar 13, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The era of entertainment reporters dissing women’s bodies and fashion choices could be coming to a close. Or at least, Kathy Griffin’s announcement on Thursday that she’d be exiting E!'s Fashion Police—after three months on the job—seriously disrupted the acceptability of criticizing stars’ outfits and bodies.

“Listen, I am no saint…. But I do not want to use my comedy to contribute to a culture of unattainable perfectionism and intolerance towards difference,” wrote Griffin in a statement she posted to Twitter. “I want to help women, gay kids, people of color and anyone who feels underrepresented to have a voice and a LAUGH!”

Griffin, who was a close friend of late Fashion Police host Joan Rivers, wrote that she joined the show to continue Rivers’ “legacy as a woman being brash and eccentric on television.” However, Griffin has found that her eagerness to engage in a bit of good-humored roasting of Hollywood stars is at odds with the desires of the show’s producers.

Griffin’s exit comes on the heels of a racially charged controversy that followed the show’s Oscars coverage. Fashion Police cohost Giuliana Rancic said that actor Zendaya Coleman’s dreadlocked hairstyle probably “smelled of patchouli oil. Or weed.”

Coleman took to social media and schooled Rancic (and everyone else) on why she found the comments offensive. Rancic subsequently apologized, but the incident led to cohost Kelly Osbourne quitting the show, and now Griffin has thrown in the towel.

Accomplished women such as Griffin walking away from the often mean-spirited show suggests that efforts to help people understand that tearing apart the way someone looks—even if the person is famous—isn’t OK. Indeed, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times magazine, Splash, Griffin acknowledged that the appetite for such commentary is dissipating. “People just aren’t into that stuff anymore, and I get it. Name-calling and alliteration with no comedic context is simply the lowest hanging fruit,” she told the magazine. Griffin also explained that during her tenure as a cohost, she argued against greenlighting a segment to be called “Whore Score.”

The backlash against that kind of entertainment reporting has largely been driven by activists such as those from The Representation Project, whose "Ask Her More" campaign has brought awareness to the need for red-carpet reporters to inquire about a female actor or singer’s accomplishments, not just who made her dress. During the Oscars broadcast, the hashtag #AskHerMore trended on Twitter, making the tone of Fashion Police seem like a fashion faux pas.

The producers of the show have yet to announce a replacement for either Osbourne or Griffin. We can't wait for the show to return on March 30 to see if Rancic and the other remaining host, stylist Brad Goreski, change their tune.