There’s Hope! Columnist Promises to Stop Fashion Policing Women in Politics

Last Thursday, Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee for the chair of the Federal Reserve, did the unthinkable: She wore an outfit twice in one month. Warren Rojas of Roll Call and Patrick Tutwiler of Fishbowl DC both helpfully pointed out that the outfit she wore for her nomination hearing was also the same one she wore to her nomination ceremony.

Rojas wrote:

Whether Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s latest pick to head the Federal Reserve, proves to be the financial genius our sputtering economy so desperately needs, remains to be seen. At least we know her mind won’t be preoccupied with haute couture.

Tutwiler’s take on the repeat outfit? “Yikes.”

As we posted on Facebook and Twitter and have written repeatedly on this blog, this appearance coverage is inappropriate, unnecessary and hurtful for female politicians. Journalist Erin McCann tweeted a useful flow chart for figuring out if talking about Yellen’s clothes is an OK thing to do:

In addition to Name It. Change It., outlets like Jezebel, The Atlantic and CNN also called these columnists out for the inappropriate nature of their comments. CNN pointed out that all of Yellen’s male predecessors repeated outfits without mention, yet Yellen received this high level of scrutiny. Female politicians are often on the receiving end of appearance coverage that their male counterparts never face.

When we tweeted McCann’s chart at Rojas, we even received a positive response:

The next day, he posted an apology for his previous post, writing:

Message received, America. Perhaps I should leave all the fashion policing to the Joan Rivers and Tim Gunns of the world.

We named the problem. He acknowledged the issue and promised to not do it again. We’ll keep working to get more members of the media to join him so we can eradicate sexist coverage for good. How's about it Patrick Tutwiler? Such a vow would be a great way to start off your job as the new editor of DC Fishbowl!

Published by Victoria Edel on 11/18/2013

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