Growing up in the South, my friends and I had a unified theory of beauty: the more blue eye shadow you were wearing, the better you looked. We used as many shades as we could, buying big discount-store palettes and layering the stuff from lashes to eyebrow. I don’t know how this look got started or why it has such a regional flavor. But it was with a certain amount of nostalgia—you might say a shock of recognition—that years later, sitting in the makeup chair at Fox News, preparing to promote a book, I watched as the makeup artist lavished blue shadow onto my lids, so much shadow that I felt I should be wearing a sash and tiara.
Afterward, I made some inquiries among other women who had been guests on Fox and among the makeup professionals who work in the brightly lit warrens of the news-talk-show industry, transforming dozens of faces a day. I learned that while the vivid blue of my eye shadow may have been an aberration, its heavy application was not. “Pageant queen” was one of the kinder articulations I heard of the female aesthetic at Fox News and its financial counterpart, Fox Business; “glamour nighttime” was another. “At Fox, they look very painted,” a makeup artist at CNN said pointedly. (This makeup artist, like many of those I spoke with, preferred not to be named, for fear of losing future assignments.) A publicist who works with high-profile news makers recalled that Fox covered one client’s face with so much bronzer that she “looked like a female George Hamilton.”