Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Notes on Politics: Hillary Clinton Appeared in Public Without Makeup. Film at 11.


How sad is it, the fact that the U.S. Secretary of State appeared in public without cosmetics having been applied to her face (she wore lipstick) is considered big news? That it was a lead story on Drudge? That the internet was all abuzz about it?

While I absolutely love that Hillary Clinton said she has no interest in what people are saying about her decision not to wear makeup (except for lipstick) -- and hope that young women take note of how she doesn't care -- the fact that it's news at all, never mind prominently so, is disturbing.

Where are the news stories intelligently parsing what she was in Bangladesh to speak about, because it certainly wasn't about the multi-million-dollar American cosmetics industry? I haven't heard a whole lot about why she was over there in the first place, only that she did so wearing glasses (The scandal!) and let people see that she has freckles (The horror!).

I take umbrage at how some folks are responding to the photos, with some saying she looked like a "schoolgirl" (Girl? Really? When are male pols referred to as "boys?") and others maligning her as looking "tired and withdrawn."

I don't care about any of that. Just tell me what she was there to discuss, will you please? I don't want to read about speculation as to whether she has a stylist. After some rooting around online, I learned that Clinton was discussing microlending to the poor, expressing her hope that such efforts wouldn't be "undermined by government actions" in Bangladesh, CNN reported. Additionally, Clinton called for the end of politically-motivated violence and for "further cooperation between the United States and Bangladesh on counter-terrorism, environmental, health, food security and educational issues," the Los Angeles Times reported. But the focus of the bulk of the coverage? Her looks.

Erin Gloria Ryan at the blog Jezebel likewise had a strong reaction to this no make-up flap, saying:

"For a society that produces ads and photo spreads so airbrushed that they're technically cartoons, we're oddly obsessed with seeing women without airbrushing for various reasons: to satisfy our own curiosities (and insecurities) or so that we can mock them for being human or praise them for bucking tradition, especially if they're women in power, and double extra especially if they're polarizing women in power. But even entering the conversation is unnecessary and dangerous."

Image credit: Pavel Rahman/AP via Yahoo News.

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