Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tim Gunn, You've Got to be Kidding Me

Oh hey, Hillary. How are you? Are you sure you're ok? You don't look ok. You look kind of mad.

Oh, what's that? Yet another person, this time Tim Gunn, is critiquing your looks/clothes and not focusing on your policies, accomplishments, or the actual purpose of your career? In fact, he went as far as to say you're confused about your gender because he doesn't like your pants suits!?

Yeah, I'd be pissed off too! I am pissed off too!

Do I really have to go over this? Hasn't it all been said before?

Let me make this crystal clear: The way that female politicians are treated regarding their looks and clothes is sexist.

We virtually never hear anything about Obama's or Boehner's clothing or hair choices. And even when we do hear something about about a male politician's appearance, the stories are frequently framed by emphasizing the femininity of the man involved, as a means of painting them as ridiculous. For example, when it was discovered what John Edwards spent on a haircut, Fox News ran this line, "Edwards also availed himself of $250 in services from a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H., which is described on its Web site as 'a unique boutique for the mind, body and face' that caters mostly to women."

HAHA! GET IT!? Edwards is such a little girl...but back to the matter at hand.

Tim Gunn--I get that your thing IS fashion, and that's great. However, our politicians are not supposed to be sex or fashion symbols. The undue attention to Hillary's clothing, "cankles," and gender identity is both tired and harmful. Not only does it unfairly distract from the actual purpose of politicians' work, but it also perpetuates the myth that women are necessarily supposed to care about their looks above all else. I know being catty about these things is sort of what you're know for, but perhaps save the snark for a less obviously sexist discussion.

And now for some resources on the topic...for a nuanced analysis of gender in our last presidential election, check out Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister. I also think that the movie Miss Representation has a great message on this, but I haven't yet seen it (I'm hoping it comes my way!)

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