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Leslie Griffith

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Cindy McCain: Pretty in Pink

Posted: 07/09/08 02:17 PM ET

Do we want our daughters pretty in pink?

This story took a week to ferment and bubble to the surface of my psyche. It is directed at women, and it's about a stupid news magazine cover that should not mean anything -- but for deeply complicated reasons it does.

The magazine is Newsweek and Cindy McCain is on the cover.

It's the message the cover of the magazine sends -- a message of conformity that First Ladies of old were mostly forced to project. Look closely -- conformity is illustrated in every pixel. Pick it up and take a look with an open-heart and an unjaundiced eye. Are we backsliding?
Or are we getting pushed.

The fingerprints of political consultants and image therapists are smeared over the cover like flies -- well you know. Cindy McCain is no dummy. She's married to John McCain for goodness sakes, and she is the chairwoman of her own company. She's the age of most grandmothers, so why make her look as if she is just another Paris Hilton-ized size two?

Forced to project a pretty in pink image is not so easy, and once a woman gives the okay, it is hard to get the power to say no in return.

Most female anchors go through the same drill. Corporate owners of newsrooms -- often deeply entrenched in the entertainment business -- require subservience and deference. The pastels begin multiplying in the closet.

Consider the older man -- younger -- woman anchor teams with the same demographics as Cindy and John McCain. Many of the ultra-conformists running newsrooms across the country make sure the female is perky, smiling, deferential and pretty in pink. Is there a parallel? Are we sold everything?

One anchor-woman in San Francisco wears a pink leather suit! Now really who is she trying to please? The answer to that question is the men who consider her an appendage -- a sweet little pussy cat -- purring perfection while giving up her own soul in the process. Hillary in blue slacks is their nightmare!

Why is it that the more conservative corporate leaders get, the more pretty in pink women show up to wave their pom-poms for the men in power -- men who often have few boundaries and wouldn't be caught dead in a pink suit.

We are back to the same old question: Why do women work so hard to be loved and why does that continue to involve being thin, having no wrinkles, smiling on cue and SHUTTING THEIR MOUTHS?

I know a woman who jogs six miles a day and cries as she pushes past all the other wives out doing the same thing. She says frankly that her husband will look elsewhere if she is not fit. He hasn't listened to a thing she's had to say in years

Imagine Princess Diana after attending a state dinner holding back her hair in the bathroom praying to the porcelain God. How many times did that dear woman wipe vomit from her designer gown or pick it out of her hair before leaving the restroom -- all in an effort to make a man love her who never did and never would?

What young women need now are heroes. They need to see women saying no to image consultants and unreal expectations. They need to understand images on most magazines are PhotoShopped and the lies of perfection are created by the publishers.

We've had President's wives who love birds and flowers and designer clothes and wanted nothing more than a title and a closed mouth. But there were a few who sat as equals: Abigail, Roselyn, Eleanor come to mind.

Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain -- who are you really? The consultants tell you not to speak of issues when those issues have defined your lives just as they have ours. Remember, for every person who hates you for opening your mouth -- two will admire your courage and feel protected by you.

This time around, America needs a woman in the White House tempering the testosterone with reason and helping an often isolated president understand the condition of the people living in the nation he governs for them. We need an Eleanor Roosevelt.

Between the years 1933 and 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt dictated 2,500 newspaper columns, wrote 300 magazine articles, published six books and gave roughly 70 speeches a year. She served as chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and was routinely called "The First Lady of the World." That's the kind of First Lady America needs. We are tired of lies whether they be verbal, ocular, or PhotoShopped.

Ignore the consultants, be brave -- the times call for it and the people are demanding it. When Michelle and Cindy speak, we will spot the wife who is the friend to her husband and the woman who can be a friend to the nation. Yes, you must choose your words carefully, but after all -- that is what separates the girl from the woman isn't it?

Worn out images of perfection always self destruct. Nature makes sure of that. But honesty during hard times can make us stronger. Damn the consultants, damn the people who tell you to close your mouth.

Speak.