Why I Don't Care About Michelle Obama's Dress Or Who Wore It Better

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Chris Carlson/AP Photo

It is 2012. We should be way beyond women in positions of power being reduced to hairstyles, suits, dresses, and stilettos.

My stomach was in knots Tuesday night as I watched the election results unfold. I had friends who worked at the polls, canvassed neighborhoods, used social media to remind people to vote, stood in line for hours, and stayed up way beyond their bedtimes to hear the concession and victory speeches. So imagine my dismay when I woke up on Wednesday, turned on my computer and the first “article” that popped up was a piece about how Michelle Obama wore the same dress three times in public.

It is 2012. We should be way beyond women in positions of power being reduced to hairstyles, suits, dresses, and stilettos. I have reached a point in my life where I have no desire to hear how much someone spent on their election wardrobe, how much they paid for a dress, or what brand of nail polish they have on their finger nails.

Imagine the backlash that would occur if instead of covering what Congressional bill a male senator is introducing, or how the peace talks at Camp David went, we featured articles on who made their suits and how well their hands were manicured. Yet it seems that as a society, we are okay with treating female political figures in such a manner, regardless of their party affiliation.

I wish I could say that this behavior was specific to politics, or perpetrated by men only. The truth is that the same thing happens in magazines, on websites, and on television shows in every part of the country. Unfortunately, a lot of it is written, hosted, or promoted by women.  When we click on web pages or read articles dedicated to topics such as Who Wore It Better, we are a part of the problem. When we don’t turn away from interviews with actresses who never again wear clothes they are photographed in, we are a part of the problem. Especially when we live in a world where people are literally dying because they don’t have enough food to eat, sleep in rooms the size of our bathrooms, or when a young girl’s school uniform is the best outfit they own.

In a society where it is common place for women on television to compare themselves to others, snatch each other’s hair, call each other out of their names, or disparage each other, we have to ask ourselves what role we play in how women are treated and portrayed as a whole. When we begin to stand up for other women, media outlets will begin to listen.  The world, after all, is all about supply and demand. When we demand better, we will be supplied with much better portrayals of women in all walks of life, from politics, to the corporate world, to everything in between. How can we demand better?  Let’s start with building each other up, and allow the rest of the world to catch on to the way we treat our sisters, our friends, our daughters, and mothers.

Here are five ideas:

1. Stop badmouthing women you don't know. The next time you see a woman on the street that you would like to take a picture of, post on facebook or twitter, and read what mean comments your friends have to say….don’t.  Instead, look for another woman and pay her a compliment.

2. If the title of an article portrays a woman in a disparaging way or compares one women's outfit, body type, or hairstyle to another, DON’T CLICK ON IT. Companies make money off of the links you click on. Another option… in place of spending ten minutes on a social media site, spend ten minutes writing an email to the author or editor.

3. Know a great friend or mother who works extra hard? Offer to watch the kids for a night or send her to the spa for a massage. Think about whether you can forgo that new purchase of something you may not absolutely need.  Why not spend it on a deserving woman. Offer to pay for a text book or two of a student in college.

4. Have a daughter, goddaughter, or niece? Tell them how proud you are of them and celebrate their talents as often as you can.

5. Share positive stories of women instead of the ones about who cheated, who got kicked off of what reality show, or who is going through a foreclosure. Text them, tweet them, or post them on facebook.

What do you think? Are women in politics treated fairly in the media? Are you happy with the way women are portrayed as a whole? Leave us a comment below.

 

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