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Succeed With Style: When Did Nail Polish Become Part of Politics?

Monday, September 10, 2012


Why is it that when women are in the political spotlight, Americans tend to focus on their clothing and fashion accessories rather than what they are actually saying? The color nail polish Michelle Obama wore at the Democratic National Convention was actually a topic on the Today Show recently. Really? Do you ever hear a TV news reporter say, “and later in the show, we'll share the name of the cologne XYZ male politician was wearing at XYZ event” or event mention his clothes at all? No! The focus would be on the man’s message and accomplishments. But for women in politics, Americans tend to focus on their appearance first.

Images should support the message

Being in the business of image development, I'm a strong proponent of portraying yourself in a professional manner. However, what gets lost in translation is the fact that someone's appearance should not become the primary focus. As long as a politician's image reflects their goals, then stop there and move on to more important things like the issues at hand. Being well put-together should be expected, not considered an achievement. Our image should support our message and mission, not serve as a form of superficial distraction.

Double Standard

I don’t look to women in politics to give me fashion advice. I'll rely on lifestyle magazines and shows like What Not to Wear for those fun details. I look to women in politics and news media for information and guidance in their areas of expertise. I don’t think fashion should be a primary focus for the First Lady. I think she should look appropriate and authentic. But I am not looking to her for my style cues. Her image should command confidence and credibility. I hope in the coming months the news media does not pit Michelle Obama’s style against Ann Romney’s style. I think that would be a sad story to focus on when our country needs a jump-start. There is a time and place to focus on fashion and it is not during an election.

Margaret Batting is the Corporate Style expert for GoLocal. She is the owner and president of Elevé Image Communications and the only certified image consultant and personal brand strategist in Rhode Island. Margaret is also a Worcester, MA native. She travels the country as the national corporate image consultant for CareerBuilder. For more information, visit http://www.eleve-style.com.


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