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[Opinion] Fashion Politics

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is always at the center of attention thanks to her sense of clothing. She has appeared in public wearing red hoods, pearl necklaces and Armani suits. Her high sense of fashion graced the cover of New York Times recently. Last year, when Pelosi became the Speaker of the House, the Washington Post said, “The Armani Suit made her look very professional” Many subscribers of the Washington Post criticized the article for focusing on what a female politician wears. It seems that this kind of criticism is not only common in Korea.

There is a saying that news reports about female politicians is nothing more than the 3H; husband, hairdo, and hemline. In Korea, if newspapers write about the clothes a female politician was wearing, they come under severe criticism by women’s rights groups. The groups say that the report is “out of focus and discriminating.” However, nobody can deny the fact that the more the female politician becomes famous, the more people get interested in her clothes. The New York Times also said that it is “retrograde to equate looking good with being empty-headed. In other words, those politicians can both have good taste of fashion and political capabilities at the same time.

Condoleezza Rice wore black boots in high heels and a black long coat when she was visiting Europe for the first time as the Secretary of State. Her appearance resembled one of the main characters of the movie “Matrix.” Her clothes surely showed that she was a woman of power. Medeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State, was famous for sending out quiet messages by her brooches. In the 1970s, women with professions usually wore suits that were similar to male suits to cover up their femininity. Now, the situation is different. Many women reveal their femininity. But they always remember to wear jacket in order to express their self-confidence and authority.

Park Geun-hye, the former chairperson of the Grand National Party, always wore pants instead of skirts when she had to stand against the ruling party. She used to have a hairstyle similar to the one her mother used to have. Last week, she changed her hairstyle to a waved bobbed hair saying, “The warming up season is over.” It is true that a female politician’s fashion becomes likable only when it keeps pace with the times. Kang Geum-sil, the former Minister of Justice, showed a good sense of fashion during her term. However, she failed to be elected as the mayor of Seoul, only leaving the illusion of her symbolic color “purple”. It seems that fashion can be a political message and a political shackle at the same time.

Kim Sun-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com