Thursday, October 26, 2006

Politics and Plastic Surgery

Let's face it--we all want to look good. Women spend thousands of dollars a year to defy gravity, lifting and tucking anything that might start to fall south. Men have also begun to sing to this tune, getting calf implants (yes, I said calf implants) and needing to enhance other parts to make themselves feel more manly.

This desire for the trim and slim has seeped even into the realm of politics, where the electorate has to double as actors and superstars. As I read this article about an accusation that Hilary Clinton had Botox, it struck me that people will often elect someone who "looks" right. Why else would politicians (male and female alike) ascribe to the same staunch suits, Mister Rogers cardigans when addressing the nations and stiff hair? Because it fits the formula for the unintrusive, non-gaudy politician who will make all of our political woes better.

But should image be the focus? Should I care whether Laura Bush has the classic Botox stare and probably dyes her hair to a lush auburn or more about her policy? Have we descended to a time where a look of a politician matters more than his or values? Would I like the Governator more if he didn't have crows feet? I doubt it.

This article from the NY Times was in the Fashion & Style section, which I found interesting. I would have liked it better in another section of the paper. But I guess it shows that even politicians, in the midst of the possibility of a congressional upheaval, will keep themselves looking youthful. The writer did a great job of examining the double standard that civilians can get all the nipping and tucking they want but politicians cannot. After all, they are only responding to the societal lie that we must look young forever. Why else would they spend thousands of dollars on image?

At any rate, did you know there was an underground culture of political plastic surgeons?



At Thursday, October 26, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I think politician or not, when someone's face is plastered against TV screens day after day, there's the desire to look good. I don't think preoccupation with beauty should overpower preoccupation with policy. However, I can't say it's wrong for political figures to be concerned with their appearance prior to an election. I believe statistics have proven that attractive people have an easier time getting jobs. So you can't blame them for trying. The thing that does bother me is that the New York Times covered this topic as a story over something of greater importance. Millions of people invest in plastic surgery. This is not a new phenomenon. A respected source of journalism should dedicate their space to more "newsworthy" issues. This just reinforces how society has become so invested in celebrity.



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