Brought Up Short

On Facebook today I laughed at some commentary about a picture of a local candidate who looked pretty scary in a TV debate. It was easy to do because I am her polar political opposite and would love to see her defeated at the polls because of her policies. But someone chimed in and commented that here we go again talking first about how a woman looks and then about her politics. Someone else made a crack about how John Boehner is pretty scary looking too. However, the comment made me uncomfortable. Isn't it lovely & delicious to see our adversary looking bad? Doesn't it seem fitting, & isn't it the most natural thing to ridicule her in that moment?

Wow – that thought totally brought me up short. And made me glad that I don't have thousands of people tracking my every good and bad hair day. And it made me wish that we never even got to see what our political candidates look like. Why should that matter at all when I go to the polls? For me it doesn't matter – I vote my conscience. But I'm sure there are people who, perhaps even subconsciously, vote for the pretty person. And it was one of the reasons I was so sad to find out that John Edwards wasn't who he appeared to be.

I was going to grab that picture from Facebook to add to my post. But the thread isn't there anymore. I guess the person who posted it was just as uncomfortable as I was, in the end. Thank goodness.


  1. This raises such an interesting issue that I've been pondering for some time. Why exactly is it that "pretty people" seem to have so much more credibility? Our society DOES judge someone's intelligence and validity based upon their appearance, and those who are pretty to look at are forgiven a multitude of sins. The person who fully comes to mind here is Sarah Palin. Now, I am sure this woman does have intelligence, but do you think she would have rocketed to the level she has had every male not wanted to (ahem). Anyway... it surely is a topic that both interests and fascinates me too.

  2. This reminds me of the Kennedy/Nixon debates.

    Nixon was pale and pasty and he had a tendency to sweat. But Kennedy was attractive and quite tanned from all that sailing off Cape Cod. The camera loved him.

    Those who listened to that debate on the radio thought Nixon won. Those who watched on television thought Kennedy was the winner.

    Kennedy was the first presidential candidate to understand how to use the media. All others have followed.

    Great post, Bug. Lots of food for thought.

  3. Long ago I once heard someone say they were going to vote for Ronald Reagan because he was a movie star. There's no accounting for how people make choices. I think we're all guilty of assessing looks, and who wouldn't want to look at someone who looks nice? Candidate wives/husbands are also a factor. I remember a presidential hopeful once upon a time whose wife was short and chubby. In my mind I was thinking "not exactly first lady material." It was a first impression, snap judgment, and I moved on from there. In the end I was a little sorry that we didn't see more of her, because I got curious about just who SHE was!

    I'm making the sign of the cross to absolve you of your "sin."

  4. Isn't it interesting that whenever someone attacks a woman they go for her sexuality or her appearence first? Often at work I have some little old lady ask me "honey why ain't you married?" as though its a great thing to ponder...a reminder that I'm old enough to do so. I do know what you mean though, when someone's beliefs don't match with your own it's much easier to make fun of them.

  5. Just part of the pervasive misogyny in our culture. Oh hell, worldwide. But you are right about attractive people. They are the ones who get all the attention, get the raises and promotions, etc. We're a shallow species. Still basing all our decisions on who will make the prettiest and healthiest babies.

  6. I think you may be giving the poster too much credit. There are plenty of people who never regret a thing they do.

    It's good that you have the fortitude of character to second-guess your first reaction, which is often just ID-driven response rather than well-considered thought.

  7. Just yesterday one of my sisters told me that her vote for governor was decided by hair. That kind of thing drives me crazy!

    In her defense though, we have so much information thrown in our faces all day long that at a certain point its easier just to tune everything out. Lazy yes, but I can see how we do it.

  8. That is precisely why Kennedy beat Nixon, all those years ago. Kennedy looked better on television. Kennedy looked healthier as well, even though he was actually quite ill for all of his presidency.

    In the alternative, I thought John Edwards looked like a sleazy televangelist. I would not have voted for him on his looks.

  9. you know what i think it is, though? i find that people who are ugly on the inside are ugly on the outside. my friends, people i respect, people who are kind -- i never think of them in a negative physical sense. people who are horrible and mean? to me, they are hideous.

  10. The fact that you moved past your initial reaction speaks so well of you, Bug. Wish more people could or would do that!

  11. I don't think I ever voted for someone because they were good looking. Though I have dated a guy because he was not good looking. Funny thing is, after I got to know the man he started to be good looking!

  12. maybe politician's should all go the way of the Monster Raving Looney Party candidate Lord Buckethead

    These are the fringe guys who stand just for a laugh - fame is a cruel mistress right enough and its a tricky line to tread: they have to give the image and use the press to their own ends whilst still maintaining privacy. Better to live in obscurity perhaps?


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