‘Style Is Subjective’: MasterChef Judge Melissa Leong’s Reminder To The Fashion Police

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MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong
It's no secret that fashion is utterly subjective, yet we still find ourselves seeing worst-dressed lists pop up every time there's a major awards ceremony or red carpet event. More often than not, it's women who face criticism for what they wear, and MasterChef judge Melissa Leong knows this all too well.
In a message posted to her Instagram story after the 2023 TV Week Logie Awards, the food critic highlighted the importance of realising that "style is subjective", and that people have the right to express themselves through fashion without fear of judgement from strangers.
"Your semi regular PSA that if you don't like something someone does, or wears, you don't always have to let the world know," she wrote. "There was a stunning array looks that showcased each wearer's style and personality last night, and it was bloody beautiful to see."
The 41-year-old pointed out that while attending prestigious red carpet events comes with the gig of being a television star, it doesn't necessarily make it any less daunting as a woman to pose for a myriad of cameras.
"And I can tell you for free, that while this is part of our work, standing there on the carpet is a little terrifying, and a lot exposing," she wrote.
Leong reminded her over 370k Instagram followers that the way in which people express themselves through fashion is very "personal", and everyone has a responsibility to respect this and "not shit-can people you don't know".
"To be clear, this is an observation about the way humans are so comfortable criticising women in general," she added. "Contrary to popular belief, not everything women write is coded or solipsistic."
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Rhiannon Anderson, Ben Draper, Sarah Todd, Marty Benson and David Forster Melissa Leong and Julie Goodwin at the 2023 Logies
As the only female judge on MasterChef Australia, Leong has often been scrutinised about everything from her personal relationships to how she carries herself on TV.
Last month she unapologetically hit back at a Facebook user who wrote, "Melissa stop stuffing food up your nose so appalling on TV (sic)".
In her considered and eloquent response, the TV star explained that smelling the food she tastes on MasterChef is a crucial element of her role as a judge on the cooking show.
"Part of judging food is bound in aroma. It's a critical part of the way we professionally critique food," she wrote
"Of course you wouldn't do that at a dinner party, but if I don't do it, I'm not doing my job. If it offends you, imagine how offended you'd be if it were someone just standing there to look pretty, but couldn't do the work!"
Leong similarly faced criticism in April — just weeks before MasterChef Australia 2023 kicked off — when a disgruntled viewer questioned her competence as a cooking show judge, and said she wasn't "a world renowned food critic like [former judge] Matt Preston".
Speaking to Refinery29 Australia at the time, Leong said that the commenter's distasteful remarks highlighted the double standard that many people of colour face, not only in the media industry, but in other fields as well.
They often feel they must work harder to prove themselves worthy of being where they are, as they simultaneously suffer imposter syndrome or face racial stigma in the workplace.
"In order to just exist in the same spaces, I don't think a lot of people understand that we [people of colour] need to be twice as good and work twice as hard," Leong said.
The TV star accepted MasterChef's Logie award for Most Popular Reality Program on Sunday night, a special win for the show ahead of its spin-off, MasterChef: Dessert Masters airing later this year. Leong will be one of two judges on the show alongside Amaury Guichon.
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