i know this is an old story now, but i just haven't managed to get around to writing about it til now. there was a bit of a furore when secretary of state appeared at a press conference sans make-up. the press conference wasn't about make-up. it was sanctions against iran. but guess what everyone was talking about.
the whole thing gives rise to several issues. first the focus on appearance for women politicians, which is unrelenting. the commentary on fashion, footwear, pants vs skirt, hairstyle, teeth, voice etc etc etc ad nauseum. we saw it here with helen clark, in australia with julia gillard, and its something that almost every woman leader across the globe has to deal with. women are required to be immaculate in appearance, all the time.
it's annoying when it takes up time that these leaders should be spending on matters of political, social and/or economic importance. but it's more annoying when it distracts from the issue they are talking about, when it takes attention away from actions or debates that require our scrutiny.
at the time when ms clinton presented a face that was so outrageously bare, she had been visiting india. we didn't get much attention on the huge hypocrisy of this visit: that one nuclear-armed state was putting pressure on another nuclear-armed state to impose sanctions on a third state that isn't nuclear-armed. without the two nuclear-armed states having any intention of relinquishing their own arsenal.
we know the impact of economic sanctions. we saw the results quite clearly in iraq through the 1990s. one of the impacts was an estimated half a million children dying due to lack of medical supplies. of course there were many others impacts that directly affected the lives of people who were in no way responsible for the things the sanctions were trying to prevent.
what ms clinton was asking for will have serious and detrimental affects on the lives of millions of people. do we real care so much whether she is pushing for that with or without her lipstick on? are the lives of those people less important than her foundation and mascara? at least someone had the courage to ask madeleine allbright if the cost of the sanctions against iraq were worth it. instead of asking similar questions of ms clinton, the focus of coverage was on her appearance.
it may be that you're a person who supports sanctions against iran. fine. debate that issue - and it should be very well debated before pressure is applied to any country to enforce them. but please don't waste my time talking about ms clinton's make-up or shoes or the fact that she wears pant-suits, or any other triviality that truly just don't matter.