Why Do We Attack Women's Looks?

Alexandra Owens, Allure magazine

If you haven't seen Anna Wintour's campaign video for Barack Obama, it's likely that you've at least heard about its very public backlash. And while some of the critiques makes sense (releasing an endorsement from Vogue's editor-in-chief on Jobs Day? Not so smart.), others are a little less relevant-and a lot more personal. Much of the negativity has been directed at Wintour herself, not for her political views, but for her appearance. New York Post columnist John Podhoretz wrote about the editor's, "hair helmet that makes her look like a Roman centurion with a '20s bob," while Fox News correspondents commented, "I love Mick Jagger's new wig," and "[She looks like] Dr. Evil." Wintour, of course, is not the first high-profile target. Mitt Romney's foreign policy spokesperson Richard Grenell recently erased dozens of cruel tweets directed towards Rachel Maddow and Hilary Clinton.

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When criticizing high-profile women, why do people feel the need to bring up their looks? Perhaps because it's easier to bash someone than to discuss the actual issue at hand. I think it's pretty safe to say that Podhoretz and the rest of the pundits aren't truly offended by a signature haircut and a stiff smile. Their passive aggressive behavior is a reaction to what they really don't like about Wintour-her liberalism, her elite status, and the fact that she's an Obama super supporter (she's raised over $500,000 for the reelection campaign). And it should be noted that this isn't confined to one side of the political aisle: Plenty of nasty things were said about both Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann's hair and makeup by people who really objected to their politics.

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What bugs me the most is the double standard. There are plenty of men who have reputations for being demanding or politically controversial, but no one seems to make comments about their weight or hair color or personal style. I've never read a column dedicated to how ugly Sam Zell or George Bush's tie was, or making fun of the Koch brothers' hair styles.

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Have you had enough of the off-topic low blows? And do you think that women get the worst of it?


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