Angela’s Attire Focus of Political Fashion, Again

I wonder if we are ever going to get past inane discussions about female politicians’ wardrobes as a story in the media in favor of continued focus on more important things like – oh, I don’t know – health care, nuclear nonproliferation,  the international arms trade and climate change.

 Recently German fashion designer Wolfgang Joop told a German magazine that German Chancellor Angela Merkel should don more low-cut attire, and that if anyone makes snide comments about her more revealing outfits “she can always slap them on their fingers using a fan from her clutch handbag.”

 Bad enough that his remarks made it into the original interview in the German magazine Stern, but then the online version of Der Spiegel picked up the story.

 Nor is this the first time the Chancellor’s wardrobe has drawn the attention of the media. In 2008, Merkel’s decision to wear a low-cut dress to an evening event landed her picture in newspapers around the world.

 When I read about Joop’s handbag advice, it brought to mind “cankle” and pant suit discussions about Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential campaign.

 Female politicians are not models, actresses or socialites  – nor should they be browbeaten into thinking they need to look that way; and then criticized if they do “dress up” on occasion.

 Who cares if a country’s top female politicians want to wear pant suits or skirts or a gown? It shouldn’t matter. People are not voting for them on the basis of their wardrobes. People vote for any politician – male or female – based on a combination of their beliefs, the issues, the politician’s platform and party affiliations.

 And the idea that any female politician’s legitimate policy efforts might be even minutely affected by worries over wardrobe does everyone a disservice. Surely there are better issues on which all of us (and our politicians) can focus our attention.

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