Is it fashionable to note personal appearances in political coverage?

Editor's note: This is a preview of a story that will appear in the Winter 2013 print issue of Gateway Journalism Review.

Nails manicured, hair parted on the right and swept to the left, wearing a conservative charcoal suit with white shirt, Speaker of the House John Boehner was sworn in to office Jan. 3. The speaker added a splash of color to his ensemble wearing a cobalt-blue tie with white dots. The look mimicked that of the 2011 ceremony. The only real wardrobe difference between the two dates was the absence of a lapel pin he wore two years ago. (We are not yet certain why his staff let him commit such a fashion faux pas.)

The signs of age and stress were evident in the noticeable greying of hair on the 63-year-old Republican from Ohio. He also looked heavier in the face. Sadly, we were not able to get a good look at his shoes to know the brand. But they were black – and sensible for the day’s events, too.

How many articles have you read with paragraphs similar to these, but with reference to women in politics?

Articles that discuss the weight, attire and hairstyle of female elected officials are a mainstay in today’s media. The 2012 election has brought a record number of women to the U.S. House and Senate. If coverage of the Jan. 3 oaths of office events is any indication, we are certain to see even more articles with appearance details on women in politics.


Share our journalism