For most people, Vogue magazine conjures up images of glossy, glamorous models in outlandish outfits slapped with tags like “couture” and “chic.” It does not typically bring up thoughts of Hillary Clinton, the stoic, intellectual, pant-suited, seeming-antithesis to the fashionable fluff of such a publication.
However, the two are very closely linked. Clinton has had a close relationship with the magazine and its eminent editor, Anna Wintour for years. She first posed for Vogue in 1993 and then again in 1998. Her strategy is clear: Recreational publications like fashion magazines intended to produce a positive public image without getting bogged down by her political views and initiatives, risk-free PR.
However, this relationship seems to have hit a roadblock. Clinton has backed out of an interview with Vogue out of fear of appearing too girlish.
Wintour had a caustic reaction: “Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female president hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying.”
Wintour’s point is well made. Certainly, part of the problem is Clinton’s fear of looking too girly. But the conflict goes deeper than that. Clinton must avoid Vogue lest she be seen as unserious. At this point in her career, the fact that anyone might question Hillary Clinton’s toughness, intelligence and capability is laughable.
Yet, it’s still happening. It doesn’t matter what Hillary Clinton accomplishes. Her political successes, adept contributions and loyalty to her party pale in the face of her gender. She’s still a woman, prone to histrionics and the occupation of her shallow mind with frivolous fodder like fashion magazines.
This is simply not the case for male politicians. When they venture into the world of lighter media platforms, they’re deemed hip and cool. When President Barack Obama appeared on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” the public lauded him for not taking himself too seriously and being able to relate to the common folk.
This will never be Clinton’s reality. She will forever fight her public perception as weak, unserious or incapable, even though she’s proven herself time and again to be anything but. She’ll never be allowed to be truly relatable, because the public demands she shelve her femininity, warmth, and humor in exchange for an indefatigable shield of stoic competence and lofty intellect.
In the public sphere, Clinton is doomed to be forever a professional, never a person.