HuffPo Style Crosses the Line: Bachmann Isn’t “Barbie”

As if they haven’t provided us with enough analysis of Michele Bachmann’s physical appearance, Huffington Post Style published an extended article yesterday spotlighting congresswoman Bachman’s stylistic evolution “from Minnesota Mom to Beltway Barbie.”

Framed as a Fashion Whip column authors Lauren Rothman and Christina Wilkie write:

Rep. Michele Bachmann, the raven-haired Barbie of the political Right, ushered in this year wearing lots of yellow, with luminous waves and a smile that called to mind her political fairy godmother, Sarah Palin.

The piece frames Bachmann’s campaign for the GOP presidential candidacy completely in terms of appearance, as though the ultimate force guiding her poll ratings came from her choice of dress and use of makeup, insinuating not-so-subtly that Bachmann’s wardrobe and makeup decisions influenced the support of her constituency.

Huffington Post has responded to our demand to stop sexist journalism by claiming that they write about male candidates’ and politicians’ appearance and wardrobe also. Name It. Change It. is wondering when they will publish an article or video discussion focusing solely on Rick Perry’s foundation or Ron Paul’s hairline?

The post included a two-minute video of writers Wilkie and Rothman discussing Bachmann's style. Wilkie and Rothman stumble through this video extremely awkwardly, sometimes rocking back and forth uncomfortably as they explain that their job is to “police political style in Washington.” (So necessary! And relevant!) With a large, forced smile, Rothman explains, “We were excited about bringing more glam appeal to the political stage,” and concludes, When her [Bachmann’s] numbers went down she should have brought down her neckline. Might have helped” (emphasis mine). Rothman also helpfully suggests that Bachmann “should have shown just a little more of a feminine touch.”

The video ends with Wilkie literally rolling around in her chair while spewing nonsense about how “any woman in politics faces the question of how to retain her femininity and how to dress in a man’s world…it’s a constantly evolving process.”

This piece, along with the slideshow and video, reduce a political candidate to the color of her suits and the thickness of her makeup. If there is any truth to the notion that Bachmann’s stylistic choices affected her campaign, Huffington Post Style can proudly thank themselves for helping to shift public focus away from what candidates say and do and toward a twisted beauty contest, where female candidates for the GOP presidential nomination are solely on how they look. 

Published by support on 12/07/2011

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