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Sarah Palin, please put on some pants

December 8, 2008

by keito

Image is extremely important in politics, and even more so when the politician is a pioneer in some regard.  While Sarah Palin’s wardrobe has already gotten a nauseating amount of attention, I’d like to say that it was for the wrong reasons.  The criticism and conversation should have focused on this one, simple fact: Sarah Palin was applying for a job, a rather high-profile, important job, and you don’t show up for an interview in black knee-high boots and a red skirt.

Like her or not, Sarah Palin has become a major female political figure, and, with relatively few of those in highly prominent positions, everything she does counts.  Though I firmly believe that a woman should be able to wear whatever she chooses, and more importantly that what she wears shouldn’t matter, the cold hard truth is that, at this time, it still does.  A friend of mine, employed by a company that performs background checks, once lamented that she was not permitted to wear any articles of clothing that might suggest she was a woman, and yet one could hardly enter the break room without getting hit by one of the many sexual innuendos flying around.  It isn’t fair, but there is still an implication in society, or at least in the workplace, that to be dressed too unlike a man is to express that you do not wish to be taken as seriously as a man.

Some of Palin’s clothing choices have been in stark contrast to the serious pantsuits for which Hillary Clinton has been known. The Anchorage Daily News (adn.com) reported in December 2007 that, “for the record, Palin prefers clothing made by more outdoorsy clothiers like North Face and Columbia rather than runway fashion dresses.”  Whose idea was it, then, to put Palin in a set of clothing so alien to her character, the outdoorswoman from Alaska she considers herself to be, and what were they hoping to achieve?  Certainly not a more sober, wholesome image for the “hottest governor” from “the coldest state.”

If you still think clothing doesn’t matter, consider this quote from Katie Baker, writer of the article “Winning the Fashion Race” in the November 17, 2008 issue of Newsweek: “Palin’s half-up mop and rimless glasses meant to evoke harried hockey mom but ended up (when coupled with that wink) exuding a secretary-in-a-porno air.”  Hardly a suitable characterization for a potential VP.  Clothes make the man — they most certainly make the woman politician, too.

My mother hit it on the head in a conversation we had the other day.  I was describing an article I’d read to her, one which noted that, because of discrimination embedded in our society, some children have to be twice as good as others in order to achieve the same level of success, irrespective of their talents and intelligence.  She simply replied, “Well women have known that for years!”

So, please, Sarah Palin, if you run in 2012, remember that you have to be at least as good, at least as professional-looking as a man if you want to be taken half as seriously, and flash your pearly whites instead of your sexy calves.

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