In yet another display of Not Letting Women Rest Until They Are Dead And Buried, the blogosphere and legitimate news outlets alike were all a-titter this week over Hillary Clinton daring to show her face in public without a lick of makeup. Though, to my knowledge, she retired from her modeling career a solid 20 years ago and now works in politics — a field that, while demanding one look presentable, certainly isn’t full of nothing but George Clooneys and Kate Winslets — she is apparently still required to never step out of the house unless freshly dipped in a molten vat of concealer.
Headline after headline was posted, deriding her for daring to look like a 64-year-old human being, even at one point strangely comparing her to Kate Middleton. And though it is certainly nothing new to see public figures lambasted for looking, well, like they’ve been a little worn down from being screamed at for a picture for the majority of their lives (though Newt Gingrich-giant head jokes will never be unfunny), there is something especially disheartening about seeing it done to Hillary. That woman has been through so much media ravaging, and every square inch of her life — and, more specifically, life as a woman — has been up for some of the most vicious scrutiny in politics. Seeing people stoop so low as to essentially call her ugly in the schoolyard playground that is internet journalism just put the icing on the cake of disappointment.
Being told that we have to look beautiful — but not so beautiful that we look “fake,” mind you, wouldn’t want that — is nothing short of exhausting. And while some arguments can be made that people who have carved out careers based on being physically attractive can expect that, when that engine starts to run out of steam, the same crowds that were once fawning over their legs might now be teasing their wrinkly kneecaps, a politician seems an unfair target. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, the idea that you would hold a woman who serves as Secretary of State to the astronomical beauty standards that you hold female actresses of her age is ridiculous. She doesn’t get paid to look a certain way, and considering the bloodhound-esque jowls on so many of her crusty male colleagues, you would think that something as simple as going makeup-free would be a non-issue.
Regardless of your feelings about her as a politician, it is clear that the tone and goal of the mudslinging over her bare face was simply a more amplified version of the girl in the class getting teased because she has acne or braces. It is a subtle but firm reminder that, at the end of the day, no matter what your job is: If you are a woman, your second job is to look good while doing it. And Hillary, in one of her moments that I find truly inspirational — not only as a young woman, but as a young woman who sometimes looks crappy without makeup and would like to succeed regardless — had this to say on the issue: “You know, at some point, it’s just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention. I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now, and if others want to worry about it, I let them do the worrying for a change.”
I can only hope to, as I grow and become more comfortable with myself — including how I look — to hold the same attitude about my physical appearance. The fact that she has the fortitude to dismiss the criticisms, and really mean it, is something that I wish I saw more often. Thank you, Hillary, for not giving a sh-t what anyone else thinks. You’re the best.