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Politician fights back when critics call her dress not 'appropriate'

"Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder..."
"Labour Of Love" - Press Night - After Party
Tracy Brabin at the press night after party for "Labour Of Love" at The National Cafe on Oct. 3, 2017 in London.David M. Benett
/ Source: TODAY

A U.K. lawmaker is pushing back against criticism of an outfit she wore in Britain’s House of Commons this week.

Tracy Brabin, a Labour and Co-operative member of Parliament, appeared in a dress that bared part of her shoulder.

Several people said on Twitter said her outfit was not “appropriate," and some critics taunted her with sexist and demeaning names.

Brabin fought back with a tweet rejecting some of the most colorful things people had called her online.

"Hello. Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not.... A slag, Hungover, A tart, About to breastfeed, A slapper, Drunk, Just been banged over a wheelie bin," she wrote. "Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder..."

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Brabin, seen here giving her election victory speech in 2016, said it's frustrating that important issues are being overshadowed by a debate about her shoulder. Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

Brabin, 58, had been addressing the Commons about the right of journalists to attend government press briefings, and she said she felt frustrated that her important argument was lost amid the debate over her shoulder.

“I do think it’s slightly absurd,” she said on “Lorraine,” a morning talk show on Britain's ITV. “We’re talking about shoulders, which in the scheme of things, when there’s so much else to discuss, it does feel slightly silly.”

She also explained that when she appeared in the off-the-shoulder dress, she had just rushed to the Commons from a less formal event with UK Music, and that she hadn’t expected to appear on camera.

She added that she was leaning to one side more than usual that day because of a recent injury.

“It did slip slightly because I have a broken ankle and I had to lean a little bit on the dispatch box,” she said.

There’s no specific dress code for men and women in the Commons, but the U.K. Parliament lists these general guidelines on its website:

“The dress of MPs has of course changed throughout history. The dress of Members these days is generally that which might ordinarily be worn for a fairly formal business transaction. The Speaker has, on a number of occasions, taken exception to informal clothing, including the non-wearing of jackets and ties by men.”

While some people on Twitter criticized Brabin’s outfit, plenty of others rushed to her defense.

“When they start getting personal, they have lost the argument,” one person tweeted. “If all they can throw at you is slurs about your clothes, you are doing something right, you are getting to them.”

“Brilliant retort Tracy. Omg if only they were as vocal about the behaviour, misogyny, racism, falling asleep and warped policies of the ruling govt as they are about revealing one shoulder,” tweeted British actor Gary Webster.

The U.K.’s Women’s Equality Party also showed their support for Brabin.

“WE support @TracyBrabin opposing Downing St's decision ordering senior journalists to leave before the briefing for @BorisJohnson 's Brexit plans. Government decisions must be accessible in a democratic society,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “Her shoulder is irrelevant.”

Brabin said she felt it was important to speak out against the “everyday sexism” she had experienced.

"Lots of women around the country and around the world don’t have that opportunity to push back against those people that patronize them,” she told ITV.

“We also have a duty to call out everyday sexism but also to protect our young girls,” she added. "Of course, there’s always people who are going to say you’re wearing too few clothes, or too many, whether that’s the veil or the hijab. And sometimes that comes from the same space, trying to control women or to silence women. Well certainly it hasn't silenced me.”