08/07/2014 01:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Hillary Clinton Opens Up About Dealing With Sexism And Letting Go Of 'Perfect'

Norman Jean Roy

As her book tour winds down and she considers whether she'll make another attempt to shatter the "highest, hardest glass ceiling," Hillary Clinton spoke with Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive for the magazine's September issue.


When it comes to sexists, the former secretary of state has generally maintained a policy of disengagement. Leive asked Clinton how she's managed to smile through the often malicious gender-based criticism she's received, especially during a time as tense as her 2008 presidential run. Clinton shared her "guidelines" for dealing with sexist bullsh*t.

I have generally not responded if it’s about me. And I have responded if it’s about somebody else, because if women in general are being degraded, are being dismissed, then I can respond in a way that demonstrates I’m not taking it personally but I’m really serious about rejecting that kind of behavior. Now, sometimes when it is about me…you have to not just remain silent but try to figure out a proper response -- again, though, not going to the place of anger and feeling sorry for yourself, because that kind of plays into the hands of the sexists.

After nearly four decades in the public eye, Clinton is no stranger to the media's fixation on women's physical appearance. From her hair accessories to her pantsuit collection to her makeup application (or lack thereof), few of Clinton's sartorial choices go without public comment -- something male politicians rarely have to deal with. In discussing this double-standard with Leive, Clinton said:

[I] think that for many women in the public eye, it just seems that the burden is so heavy. We’re doing a job that is not a celebrity job or an entertainment or fashion job.… In a professional setting, treat us as professionals.… [And] it takes a lot of time. I’ve often laughed with my male colleagues, like, ’What did you do? You took a shower, you combed your hair, you put your clothes on. I couldn’t do that.

Another thing Clinton says men aren't concerned with? Perfection. “You don’t have to be perfect. Most men never think like that," she told Leive. "They’re just trying to figure out what’s the opening and how they can seize it. They’re not thinking about, Oh my gosh, I’m not perfect, my hair’s not perfect today, I wore the wrong shoes. No.”

If probably the most accomplished woman in the world isn't terribly concerned with being perfect, it might be safe to say that none of us should be.

Read Hillary Clinton's full interview with Glamour here.



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