Fashion Week is over, and so now I can focus on J-School. Half the week I produce and edit videos for websites and iPad apps for ladies magazines and so Fashion Week is a busy time.
However, as I return my focus to politics, I am struck the importance of the superficial for female politicians. In other words, to succeed in the political sphere, and woman must be savvy and also attractive.
The fem-politicians who use their looks to their advantage (obviously) include Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. And though she isn’t an elected official, many sites keep a close eye on the style decisions of the fine First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Somehow, though, for Nydia Velazquez – who had been the ranking Senior Member of the House Small Business Committee, and still heads the Hispanic Caucus – being powerful and good looking doesn’t land her national attention in the same way.
I have a few theories on why this is the case. Disclaimer: none of my theories are fair or nice. Just as in fashion.
One, she is too old.
Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin are 47. They both dress in hip and body skimming attire, which makes them look younger. Nydia is 57 and wears age appropriate, if not a bit too old, clothing.
Two, she is too ethnic.
In this video, one can see just how a) sassy Nydia is, and b) how difficult to understand she can be.
I recently spoke with NY Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who represents some of the same neighborhoods in Brooklyn as Congresswoman Velazquez, and he remembers meeting her in the early ’80s when her accent was much thicker. He says that her English has improved leaps and bounds since then, but regardless of the improvement her ability to articulate her point has never been a problem.
But in NYC, and accent and sassy manner aren’t uncommon. On a national level, perhaps it’s a different case.
Three, she can’t be mainstreamed.
In this Elle magazine profile of the 10 Most Powerful women in DC, one sees that all of the women are either white, or in some way made to look more white. Nydia doesn’t fall into the category, and frankly, doesn’t seem to care how she is perceived. Again, her constituents are diverse and are therefore used to an ethnic politician.
Perhaps Nydia doesn’t want the national acclaim. Or, maybe the nation isn’t ready to acclaim a woman like her.