Female politicians aren’t fashionistas, and they don’t have to be

Hillary Clinton has been the butt of many jokes for her preference for pantsuits. Glamour magazine responded by "being supportive" and showing the suits in a rainbow of colors.

There’s a reason why women are obsessed with their looks. There’s a reason why we change outfits five times before going to the grocery store. There’s a reason we like to buy a truckload of new clothes every season. There’s a reason why we obsess over even the most minute change in hairstyle.

Because we’ll always be judged on our looks, no matter what we’re doing, or how successful we’ve become.

Case in point: Today the Huffington Post unleashed its “best dressed female politician” poll.

As if pantsuits and heels have anything to do with leading the free world. As if male politicians are ever judged for what color suit or tie they choose. As if suits are actually flattering on women more than two percent of the time.

Granted, I love fashion. I think it’s fun and interesting. I think it offers a way to express yourself creatively. And I have fun judging people for their clothes, especially when they look downright silly (“Dear 19-year-olds dressing like Brenda from 90210 circa 1994: You LOOK LIKE MOMS.”).

But I know all that critiquing and faffing about has a place, okay? Politicians are scrutinized for nearly everything they say and do. Not that I feel sorry for most of those idiots, but I wouldn’t want their job.

And female politicians are scrutinized even further, because they also have to be perfect wives, mothers, and champions of both the workplace and domesticity.

Quite frankly, I don’t give a crap if Hillary Clinton goes to work in her pajamas. She has other, kind of important things to do, like I dunno, trying to prevent North Korea from blasting the Earth to smithereens.

*If it makes things any better, after kvetching about their poll via Twitter, HuffPo actually offered us an apology and also pointed us to their best dressed male politician poll (which is basically a series of old white guys in suits). I appreciate the apology, sure, but I still think that this poll is just one example of the annoying obsession with women’s clothing and appearance, even though female politicians’ jobs have absolutely nothing to do with how they look, unlike models, actresses and celebrities. HuffPo is not the only one to do this– how much have we all read about Sarah Palin’s runner’s physique, heels, and short skirts? And plenty has been said about Clinton’s pantsuits (and that one time she actually showed cleavage). I think the media– especially the news media– can do better than this.

–By Tara Cavanaugh