What Bernie Sanders' Sports Jacket Teaches Us About How We Talk About Hillary Clinton
With the next Democratic debate coming up on April 14, Bernie Sanders held a rally on Wednesday night in New York City. The Sanders rally took place in Washington Square Park, and 27,000 supporters attended the event. When I first saw footage of the event, I was not struck by the massive turnout, but rather by the outfit Sanders wore as he stood in front of the Washington Square Arch and addressed the cheering crowd.
In photos from the rally, Sanders is not wearing his typical suit, but rather a track jacket of sorts. Essentially, the candidate looks as if he could have been heading for the gym after giving his stump speech in the park. The jacket is gray polyester, zips up the front, and is utterly casual. Now, I realize that Sanders' unpolished look is part of his appeal, but his casual outfit choice highlights a double standard in this election. Sure, it was a cold night in New York and his jacket looked cozy, but Hillary Clinton likely would have made sure to stay warm and look polished in the same situation.
Frankly, Sanders' opponent could never dress so casually. In fact, Clinton's appearance is constantly critiqued — and has been ever since she was first lady.
Female politicians, from Carly Fiorina to Nancy Pelosi, are often criticized for their outfit choices, whereas men in politics rarely are. (Case in point: Bernie Sanders.) No matter what a female politician is saying, no matter what bill she is working to pass through Congress, they are always critiqued for their appearance. Even when Clinton gets a haircut, the public and the press goes wild.
Clinton may be criticized for her expensive haircuts, but let's consider what would happen if she wore her hair as unkempt as Sanders does. Something tells me that Clinton would not be leading in the polls if she didn't style her hair the way she does. Frankly, no woman in politics would ever be taken seriously if she came on stage with messy hair.
The same goes with outfit choice, which brings me back to Sanders' jacket at the rally in Washington Square Park. Clinton could never get away with wearing a track jacket to a political event, and she knows it — which is why she dresses so formally. Clinton cannot be the casual candidate, because she would never be taken seriously if she wore athletic wear to a political event.
It's time to stop obsessing over women's appearances, and let women politicians wear whatever they want to, just like their male counterparts.