It's a Lipstick Jungle Out There
Counterfeit Chic has no patience for those ostensibly high-minded folk who would declare analysis of style choice irrelevant to political debate in particular, or the professional and legal worlds in general.
Yes, Hillary's pantsuits and Sarah's coiffure will receive more column inches than Barak's unconventional shirtsleeves or the other guy's ghastly convention makeup, but that doesn't make the discussion itself sexist or silly. It's simply that men have been in power long enough to have a standard dress code from which few deviate -- Al Gore's unfortunate earth tones aside -- while women have not. We're still making it up as we go along, and ideally having some fun at the same time. It's dismissive to focus exclusively on anyone's fashion instead of his or her ideas, but not as one component of carefully chosen political packaging. Are we really not supposed to acknowledge Michelle's transition from sharp business suits to retro Jackie Kennedy-style suits and sheaths to fuzzy pastels and floral prints -- all the while looking fabulous, but progressively less threatening? And on a more quotidian basis, would we really bother with judges' robes, attorneys' pinstriped suits, and defendants' carefully scrubbed appearances if these choices didn't send messages?
That being said, the colorful comments of the current presidential campaign may have gone a shade too far. Sarah Palin won rhetorical points with the best punchline of the Republican convention when, after asking the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, she concluded, "Lipstick." Memorable -- and even more so when you realized that she'd just called herself a b*tch with lipstick before anyone else had the chance. Now Obama is making presumably unwanted headlines for comparing the McCain/Palin attempt to co-opt his "change" message to putting lipstick on a pig -- "it's still a pig." An old figure of speech, to be sure, but suddenly an awkward one.
Perhaps its time for the candidates to wipe the lipstick off their teeth, kiss, and make up -- before the makeup smears get ugly.