18 January 2007

She could have pushed it further.

I read Ms. Alvarez's article several times.

It was tightly written and wove together issues of pop culture, politics, feminism, and fashion as articulately and seamlessly as only a NY Times journalist could.

I was enjoying it so much that when I hit the end of the first page, I let out a sigh, disappointed to see it was only a two-page and not a three-page piece.

As intriguing as it was to learn which powerful women wore brand-new St. John suits, which unapologetically ordered theirs off of eBay, and which Speaker of the House hit the jackpot with a husband who picks out and pays for her velvet Armani pantsuits, I wish Ms. Alvarez had directed her article more in the direction of the debate on which this blog was founded:

Is a serious job a free pass to not care about appearance?

Should fashion be a conscious priority - or consciously not a priority - to elected women who represent everyday Americans given that everyday Americans don't know about much less wear $600 Ferragamo shoes?

Should Mary Bono (D-CA) buy the slightly boxy suit instead of the fits-like-a-glove one she really wants solely because a hugged, in-shape figure might be distracting to the men or seen as grandstanding to the women with whom she works?

Should Candice Miller (R-MI) care that every time I've gone to a House Armed Services Committee hearing, her red suits make me think of a big, ripe, Northern Michigan bing cherry?

Should a younger Congresswoman like Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), 36, make a conscious effort to dress more matronly so as not to make her more seasoned colleagues quake with resentment in their sturdy orthopedic pumps?

None of these questions have irrefutable answers, which is exactly why, if Ms. Alvarez had taken a position and presented a persuasive argument on one or all of them, it would have sparked a very interesting and heated debate among women both in and outside my fair city.

And then there was the tidy but inane way in which she ended the article.

Instead of provocative food for thought, Ms. Alvarez disappointingly gives her readers a taste-free morsel from an image consultant who asserts women don't need to look like librarians but shouldn't look like hookers, either.

Well, duh, even Candice knows that much.

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