The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Monday, April 10, 2006

SUBSTANCE VS. IMAGE

In case you didn't realize it, throwing your hat into the ring, when you're a female candidate, is the equivalent of running the gauntlet at a college mixer. OK, so I'm dating myself. No one KNOWS what a college mixer is anymore. Well, in the olden days, when men were men and women were co-eds, those of us who attended women's colleges had to go to mixers to meet the opposite sex. And often, you'd get off a bus in some misbegotten town (I live in one of those towns now and so it's doubly funny!) and in order to get to the facility where the dance was being held you literally had to walk past almost every one of the young men who were attending the event. At the less polite schools, the comments got pretty rough; it is alleged that at one school, if you went to the cafeteria, there would be a number put on your tray by the cashier which indicated the "vote" of the collective dishwashers and scoopers (I guess) about your general outward appearance. Guess what....not much has changed. I want Barney Frank to tell me that he had people telling him not to look rumpled, and Smitty Pignatelli telling me that everyone said he had to gain weight. But somehow I don't think that happened. But it turns out that there is an entire industry devoted to having women candidates "dress for success" and wear "signature pieces of jewelry" not to mention the whole botox/hair color/makeup thing. Now I did hear that General Schwarzkopf and people like that have to use botox because, one the one hand they have to have gravitas and experience, but on the other hand you don't want them to look old and haggard. So they have image consultants. But last time I looked, I wasn't invading Iraq, or even appearing on anything bigger than cable TV so why this is such an issue I really don't know. Suffice it to say that I now have two campaign suits, although I'm trying not to do the total Hillary thing with six black pants suits, and a variety of blouses. And you just might see that signature piece of jewelry. There's not much interest in my ideas on education, workforce development and customer service in government, but ask someone whether I should perm my hair, and you've got a debate going!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Substance vs. Reality...
Ten percent of the voters are really interested in substance...they want to know your views on education, health care, the war, and more. And they vote in issues...
And the other 90 percent? Who remembers the Nixon/Kennedy Debate and which one had the sweaty upper lip? Did you hear Dole recently talking about the fact that he couldn't shovel snow while W. was out there clearing little old lady's sidewalks? And he lost the primary. Why can't a bald guy run for office?
It is stupid that we, as a society, judge more on image than substance…and that’s reality!!! I’d vote for you just because I think you’re great!

Margeware said...

Your point about the sweaty upper lip and the sidewalk shoveling is very well taken. Even those of us who think we're "substantive" can make a snap judgment and it stays with us for a long time.

And isn't it just a metaphor for life? How often have each of us made an assumption about a person we've just met based on appearances? A warning to take a second look, but also that, for those of us who are being looked at, that we may only get one look!