Following prolific streamer, Ninja's unexpected move from leading streaming platform Twitch to the significantly smaller Microsoft-owned platform Mixer, a lot of people have been introduced to the world of the FTL (or 'faster than light' chat) and community-focused streaming site. With that introduction, however, Mixer soon saw controversy coming its way when people new to the site started inspecting its clothing guidelines.
These clothing guidelines appear pretty strict upon reading them and you can read the restriction document in its entirety here, but, let's summarise each stream category, of which there are three. Family-friendly streams, or streams that anybody, regardless of age, can watch, requires streamers to cover their entire visible body from a few inches above the bust-line. The attire the streamer's wearing also can't be strapless or show cleavage. For teen streams, clothing can show some cleavage but still has to cover the entire visible body. Strapless tops aren't allowed.
As for the 18+ streams, the list is long and a lot more direct as to what's okay and what's not. Streamers on an 18+ stream have to cover their chest from the bust-line to the end of the rib cage and they can't show "under cleavage". Crop tops and clothing showing the midriff are allowed but strapless tops are only allowed if the viewers can see the top clearly on camera. Swimwear and gym outfits are allowed when the streamer is in a clothing appropriate situation while streaming (such as at a pool or at the gym) but even here there are restrictions. The guidelines state that "Swimwear that is considered acceptable at a family beach is acceptable" and that "sports bras are allowed to be worn as clothing as long as the breastbone is covered". This wording is undoubtedly vague, considering the "breast bone" is technically visible when wearing a low-cut T-shirt or tank top as well.
We sat down with three female streamers on the platform to discuss their views on the matter.
Gamer, Mixer partner, body painter and special effects makeup artist PTBarpun states that while she's happy with how she gets treated on the platform, the controversy holds some merit. The tube top restriction specifically hinders her work as a body painter.
"I've been a streamer for Mixer since the early days of Beam. 3 years of streaming, with 2 of those spent as a partner. Before I began my body art streams I never felt disrespected as a woman, I never felt that I wasn't heard. I've connected with many female streamers over the years and not once have I heard any female on the platform complain about the clothing terms since it was simply not an obstacle. When I did gaming only streams I never encountered any issues".
"My problems with the clothing rules are only related to body art (Mixer has zero exceptions for artists) - I've recently contacted Mixer again to try to get these terms adjusted so we can stream with a tube top on teen (currently if you're strapless you must be 18+, which is where a lot of the criticism comes from - since it's essentially saying if you bare shoulders it's a mature stream) as well as adjusting 18+ clothing rules to line up with more platforms such as DLive (according to DLive staff you can stream art with just pasties on) or Twitch. Even Instagram permits streaming with partial nudity as long as it's for the purpose of creating art".
"I have the utmost respect for Mixer community guardians and the partner management team, but I know the incentive to make changes to the clothing rules has been nonexistent due to the platform only having two body artists".
"While I hate seeing fire come onto my platform, I do hope we can use this as an opportunity to modernize our streaming rules and give the Mixer art community a better chance at growth".
This seems to be the main source of criticism as well. The guidelines are predominantly directed towards women on the platform, with female cleavage being the issue in regards to what "both men and women" can wear. Now, as we know, men don't show cleavage too often, nor do they wear spaghetti straps or tube tops as frequently as women. While the guidelines are most likely put in place to simply have a clear set of rules that, if broken, have the same implications for everyone, negating different interpretations, they do seem unnecessarily restrictive. At least in writing.
Mixer partner and one of Mixer's horror headliners (or scream queens, if you will), ReAnimateHer, looks to Mixer with nothing but love, stating:
"I love our Terms of Service. The clothing guidelines I think match for our game rating channels. Mixer has game ratings so Children do not see 18+ content & games. As a woman and content creator on Mixer, I stream my content on 18 due to the graphic violence and language of the games I play. I wear whatever I want on stream and I feel safe and confident in Mixer to make these rules to protect our young ones from some of the stuff that is out there on other platforms".
She doesn't think the harsh wave of criticism heading Mixer's way is fair.
"I find it funny that people complain about our ToS when it is pretty straightforward in most things. People complain about Twitch ToS and not being enforced. My child is not allowed on Twitch because of the amount of soft porn and actual porn seen on that platform".
Partnered streamer ConcealedBones has also never faced an issue regarding the guidelines on the platform.
"Mixer's dress code has never been an issue for me. I have been able to wear my clothes without changing how I dress or trying to "comply" or to stay out of trouble. In fact, Mixer has defended my ability to wear what I want (within professional reason). I have a large bosom and it has been 86 degrees in my apartment... I stream in a tank top on teen and 18+. Mixer has no issue with this. This is a professional environment whether people want to look at it this way, or not. It should be treated as such. I also prefer my audience to be older than 18. If I am streaming on teen, I pride myself in being a good role model. That doesn't mean I cannot dress comfortably, but it does mean I hold myself to a standard".
This having been said, however, the guidelines, although they seem to be aimed towards women, are no less restrictive for men. For example, variety streamer and Mixer partner Pewn quickly had his dreams of running topless Tuesdays shot down when he was told to "put a shirt on"; a restriction Mixer's had in place since its inception.
To level the playing field somewhat, we also sat down for a quick interview with prolific Twitch partner ZombiUnicorn, who has been outspoken about objectification, sexism and unfair practices in the streaming space prior to the Mixer debacle.
"I get what they were going for, with the roles. Twitch has got a lot of grey areas and so they're trying to be more specific but, I think the way it's written is very much focused on the female body and it's kind of akin to girls in middle school getting reprimanded for their shoulders showing because their bodies are too distracting. It's just kind of oppressive. It's making it out to be that a woman's body is inherently sexual, which it isn't. It can be sexual and others can deem it sexual even when it's not" ZombiUnicorn said, before continuing:
"It's a form of victim-blaming. As someone who has dealt with this for a long time on Twitch, you know I've worn everything from long-sleeve tees to hoodies and I still get weird comments just because of my particular body type. I'm top heavy so no matter what I wear I constantly get called a "boobie streamer" even though it's in no way the focus of my stream. With that, I've become more comfortable wearing whatever I'm comfortable in, just saying 'screw it, I'm going to get dumb comments about my body anyway'. I abide by the TOS [terms of service] and I don't wear anything sexually engaging or anything like that and I think that the way the Mixer rules are written, they're a little too oppressive, a little too old-fashioned. I see what they're going for but they need to word them in a better way and stop putting it on the fact that the female body exists".
"There needs to be more grey-area. Someone can show a bit of cleavage and still be professional and classy, I actually gave an example of it recently, it was a photo of Michelle Obama in a purple suit/dress thing that was definitely office attire. It was classy and she's one of the classiest women around and still, if she would have streamed on Mixer in that attire she would have been put in the R-rated category because she had a couple of inches of cleavage there".
"I've actually known Matt and James for a long time as I used to play Minecraft on my channel and they had MCProHosting, so I've seen them build this platform from the ground up and I'm very proud of what they've done and I've talked to them about this and they've asked me for my opinion on this because they've seen me deal with it for a long time. I do think that they are working on making the rules sound less like that and still have the distinct category differences without any of the guidelines being deemed as oppressive. I know that they are working on improving and they appreciate the feedback".
"I think there is a way to find a happy medium between a big grey-area and restrictive rules, just with better wording and better language".
It's clear that different people have differing opinions, which is the way it should be, after all. We have a long way to go before we collectively agree on what's appropriate or not for men and women to wear.
We reached out to Mixer for a statement and they got back to us, saying "Mixer is committed to maintaining a positive, inclusive and diverse community alongside transparent Rules for User Conduct. We are always listening to feedback to ensure we uphold a friendly and welcoming environment for our community.", which certainly will put some minds at ease.
Where do you stand regarding Mixer's clothing guidelines and what do you think can improve on the platform? Let us know below.