What Do Looks Have to Do with It?September 27, 2016
Donald Trump has taken (in my opinion) some well-deserved heat for saying that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, doesn’t have the “look” to be President. No surprise, I suppose. The Donald is legendary for his observations about women’s appearance. The Clinton campaign has rightly called him out for it in a recent ad featuring little girls examining themselves in the mirror while some of the uglier things Trump has said about women get played in the background. It’s a powerful counterpoint.
And yet, I couldn’t help noticing last night that several of the progressive commentators who gleefully pounced on Trump’s refusal to take back his criticism of Secretary Clinton’s “look” (okay, he tried to deflect it by focusing on her stamina) went that way themselves. Over and over, they asked each other if they thought Hillary had “looked Presidential,” each time concluding that she had. But were their questions really so different from Donald Trump’s assertion?
I think not.
Maybe the commentators were talking about Clinton’s demeanor, not her physical appearance, but I can understand why her opponent might get confused. Here’s the thing. When women attempt to rise to the top, a ridiculous amount of air time and ink get spent on their fashion choices. For instance, when French attorney Christine Lagarde became the head of the International Monetary Fund, all anyone seemed to care about was that she dressed really well. (If you don’t believe me, Google her – the phrase “Christine Lagarde fashion” will immediately suggest itself.) By contrast, men of all heights, ages and body types get elected or appointed to positions of power without a word about their “looks.” Whether it comes from Donald Trump or the press, the message seems to be that only men naturally “look” Presidential – women have to work at it.
So, here are a few questions. Do we really believe that half the human race was created solely to be decorative? Are all of our other, God-given talents just inconsequential add-ons? Shouldn’t intelligence, education, experience, and temperament count for more than looks? And what does a President “look” like, anyway?
Both of the Presidential candidates showed up last night well-groomed and nicely dressed. Beyond that, shouldn’t it be their ideas and qualifications that matter? Each of them successfully won their respective primaries, and both of them enjoy the support of a significant percentage of American voters. That ought to be enough to take their “looks” off the table. We need a capable leader, not a fashion plate.
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