Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton adjusts her glasses during a Global Townterview at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
I hate Hillary Clinton’s glasses.
I’m ashamed to admit this. I’m ashamed because it means that over the last week or so, of all the things I could have been thinking about our outgoing secretary of state, I was thinking about her glasses.
It started this past weekend.
As is our geeky type-A ritual, my husband and I were working out together while watching the Sunday morning talk shows. Steve had been haranguing me for a minute or so about Sec. Clinton’s angry “What difference does it make?” comment from the Benghazi hearings [VIDEO BELOW]; he felt the context for the attack on our embassy did make a difference. I agreed and disagreed. There was a lot I could have said. I didn’t. I was lifting.
Then they flashed a preview clip of that evening’s “60 Minutes” interview with Clinton and President Obama. Steve said, “I hate her glasses.” I immediately put my weights down and said something to this effect:
I do, too. I think they’re awful. But I think she does it on purpose. I think she wants to walk that line between looking polished and professional and not looking too girly, or feminine. I don’t think she wants to look too fashionable. I think that’s why a lot of her clothes are well made and polished, but just not that attractive. I think it’s intentional.
I wish I could say I slapped my hand over my mouth in self-disgust at that very moment, but I didn’t. I am mortified in retrospect, however.
I am embarrassed that I was more motivated to stop what I was doing to talk about the U.S. secretary of state’s glasses than about her role in one of the most pressing incidents of did-politics-affect-our-behavior-on-a-question-of-national-security that has emerged during the Obama Administration.
I am also mortified because it never entered my mind that her glasses were a practical choice rather than a fashion choice. Which, I’ve since found out, they were. I believe fashion is an undeniably important tool for a woman in a leadership role. It never entered my mind, therefore, that something a woman of her power and import was wearing might be there only for its practical value.
It is a little depressing, too, to discover that I still assume powerful women have to be careful not to look too glamorous or feminine to be taken seriously. A lot of women would say I am not wrong about that one. If I were, I would not have found myself listening recently to a conversation among professional women about what age we have to cut our long hair in order to look “appropriate.”
The main reason I am embarrassed, however, has to do with what it tells me about my own critical thinking. I am apparently more inclined to do an on-the-fly analysis of a woman’s clothes than about a national leader’s behavior. It’s certainly an easier mental exercise, especially while physically lifting weights, to speculate about what someone is wearing and why, instead of what someone did and why.
One could argue that. But I know better.
You would have had to have been living under a rock this past week to lack sufficient information on Benghazi. I do not live under a rock and was therefore more than armed with the tools needed to form and articulate a basic opinion that could be expressed while doing “full arm supination curls.”
I chose instead to formulate a thought — with relative conviction, in a timely manner, under slight duress — about her optical predilections. My husband did it on Benghazi, while maintaining a heart rate of 150. Ugh.
I can’t redeem that moment. But I have since taken the time to tell my husband that I agree. I believe the context of the Benghazi attack does matter. I believed it was a coordinated terrorist attack from the first moment the news broke and am troubled by our inability to determine whether the Obama Administration’s initial choice to discuss it as an incident resulting from spontaneous political protest was deliberately misleading for political ends. So, at least I can rest easy tonight having shown I am not an idiot.
Still, I am embarrassed. But I am also not alone.
Any idea how many links come up when you Google “Hillary Clinton’s glasses”? [At last check: about 241,000.]
After the inauguration, there was a whole Sunday talk show conversation about Michelle Obama’s arms. Needless to say, there was no mention of her husband’s.
And, for the record, my husband was the one who brought up the glasses in the first place. I was lifting.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.