Hillary and the Fashion Police

05/25/2011 12:10 pm ET
  • Alex Leo Head of Audience Development, Yahoo!

Hillary Clinton, a woman who graduated Yale Law, dealt with her husband's public infidelity, rolled out a wildly ambitious (if, unsuccessful) healthcare program, was elected to the Senate despite bad press and public skepticism, is finally okay with herself, finally at home in her own skin. How do we know this? Because she's showing some cleavage on the Senate floor.

Every woman who makes a bid for power in this society comes up against the fashion police, and it's Hillary's turn...again. This morning the Washington Post released a story tracking the Senator's ups and downs of skin-showage throughout the years and attaching meaning to the changes. I just can't believe we're still talking about this. Last year, The National Review criticized her twice for too much cleavage, so this is nothing new. It was bad enough when some guy created a website tracking her changes in hairstyle or when John Spencer maligned her looks in the 2006 race, but for the Washington Post to lend credence to the message that women in power deserve to be scrutinized on this level is nothing short of an in-your-face double standard.

A similar fate awaited Katie Couric when she took the anchor chair at CBS News. New York magazine did a story (with many, many visual aids) tracking her different wardrobe choices and implying that she was shape-shifting or trying on new facades to seduce her audience. That's the most disturbing part of all of this--that with a woman a hat is never just a hat, it's a window into her ambition and character (or lack thereof).

Here are headlines you would never see:

"Harry Reid Unbuttons Top Button, Feels Secure with Self"

"Dennis Hastert's Inseams Belie Feelings of Inadequacy"

"Charlie Gibson's Tie Progression Shows Growing Maturity"

It seems trite to even write this column, to accuse the powers-that-be once again of an amazing lack of cultural awareness, but apparently, it's necessary. At a time when the print news industry is decrying its waning readership, they have a responsibility to uphold the standards they claim we are losing. They should look to their own editorial principles for blame before shifting their gaze to those of us who can't stomach them.