Thursday, October 23, 2008

Commentary: For women in public eye, looks matter

by Janet Crain
What a tempest in a teapot the issue of the cost of Sarah Palin's wardrobe has been. You couldn't turn on the TV or go anywhere on the Internet yesterday without hearing about it. Not a word about Senator Biden's Amtrak commuting expenses being paid from his campaign fund for years and years at a cost of over $10,000 anually. Plus landscaping and redecorating at his $3 million house to the tune of many many thousands of dollars. No way he is going to be donating any of that to charity later on.

The eyes of the world have been on Sarah Palin for two months. The RNC wanted her to look great and she did. Now if the reporters would go back to objectively reporting actual news.....


Editor's note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN's "Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the "Cutting through the Bull" segment of Wednesday night's broadcast.

Campbell Brown says women in the public eye face a double-standard when it comes to appearance.

(CNN) -- There's been a lot of sniping and a lot of stories Wednesday about Gov. Sarah Palin's clothes. reports that the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 on clothes, hair and make-up for Palin on the campaign trail. Now, these are not your tax dollars.

This is money given by Republican donors to the RNC. But the report questions whether it is legal to use campaign cash for quote "personal use."

My issue? There is an incredible double-standard here, and we are ignoring a very simple reality.

Women are judged based on their appearance far, far more than men. That is a statement of fact.

There has been plenty of talk and plenty written about Sarah Palin's jackets, her hair and her looks. Sound familiar? There was plenty of talk and plenty written about Sen. Hillary Clinton's looks, hair and pantsuits.

Compare that with the attention given to Sen. Barack Obama's $1,500 suits or Sen. John McCain's $520 Ferragamo shoes. There is no comparison.

Women get scrutinized based on appearance far more than men. And look, I speak from experience here. When I wear a bad outfit on the air, I get viewer e-mail complaining about it. A lot of e-mail. Seriously.

When Wolf Blitzer wears a not-so-great tie, how much e-mail do you think he gets? My point is for women, unfortunately, appearance is part of the job.
If Wolf or Anderson Cooper shows up on the air without makeup, you think you would even notice? I show up without makeup? Trust me, you'll notice.
This doesn't just apply to TV. All women in the public eye deal with this issue. And it is for this reason that I think the RNC should help Palin pay for clothes, hair and makeup. It is part of the job.

Now, you may think, that's an awful lot of money to spend on clothes, hair and makeup.

Or you may complain, as some have, that it's hypocritical to sell yourself as a "small-town hockey mom" when you are wearing designer clothes. That's fine, just don't ignore the fact that there is a double-standard here.

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