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.

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.

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.”

President Obama and Sec. Clinton speak with ”60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft on Jan. 25, 2013. (CBS/AP, File)

President Obama and Sec. Clinton speak with ”60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft on Jan. 25, 2013. (CBS/AP, File)

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.


Tags: Barack Obama, Film/TV, Gender, Security, Style

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  • Dee Stonewall

    How about something regarding WHY Hill needs glasses after her brain blood clot? Or if the glasses are permanent or temporary as a result?

  • Sarah

    I actually like her glasses. :)

  • Kathy Wnuk

    If you looked, you can see that one lens is thicker than the other. She needs these glasses to correct a temporary effect after having had a blood clot in her brain. Really? And we had to have this conversation? The woman’s been working non-stop for the last 4 years, travelling constantly and it’s affected her health. I’m not a Hillary fan, but really? Her glasses?

  • NancyW

    The glasses have a bit of a Harry Kissinger look to them.

  • Kerry Regan

    THIS is thinking that matters? Did Japan hack WBUR’s site? After all pf the accomplishments Hillary has racked up, THIS is what you want to write about? Please consider a career at Cosmo or People…. those folks love this kind of trash.

    • lisa ann

      Accomplishments? Those were what exactly? Nothing. That’s why an article like this was all the author could come up with.

    • Melissa Morse

      See my reply above. Not meaning disrespect but I sense you missed the point of the article , which is that we progressive, post-feminist women can still so easily fall into the patriarchal, and shallow/bourgeois, patterns of judging a woman first by her looks. I thought the article was a good reminder that we women have to continue to be ever-vigilant to fight having our achievements diminished, or clouded, or usurped, by the stereotypes of gender.

  • Sewing Diva

    Her glasses are fine but the long hair ages her. She looks better in short hair, however I do think getting regular hair cuts with the traveling she did as Sec of State would be pretty difficult and I doubt US taxpayers would tolerate a hairdresser that travels with her.

  • keltcrusader

    “What difference does it make?”

    How lazy – use the correct quote or don’t use quotation marks.

    “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

  • CB

    I like the glasses. And, as pointed out, they are special glasses to correct double vision following her concussion/clot. This essay is too cute and downright embarrassing.

  • M B

    Why are you wasting our time with such dribble? Are you actually paying Dearing to report for you? Boggles the mind that out of all the great journalists who actually have something to say and actually have some knowledge to impart that this piece of boring fluff is cluttering your website.

  • Melissa Morse

    I’m reading the comments below and either respondents replied in the same context of irony as w/in the article or you all missed the point of this article. Yes, when a woman is the most powerful, influential female in the world, why are we talking about her glasses, or Michelle Obama’s bangs/arms/gown for that matter, when we should be talking about said woman’s achievements or failures as we would do a man? It’s a patriarchal response to discuss FIRST a successful woman’s looks before her skills, but not apply the same standard to a discussion about men.

    • Melissa Morse

      And I really dug her glasses. Very Henry Kissinger.

      • jamie

        “very henry kissinger” – and that’s a good thing?
        you like to be reminded of someone responsible for the deaths of

        thousands of people from vietnam to south america?

  • Fritz buehner

    When I first saw Hilary wearing glasses at the Benghazi hearings I was impressed and it made me think all the more of her. I did not think of them from a fashion point of view, but from the perspective of her as a brilliant and tough-minded person.

  • maraith

    Bad enough you focused on a woman’s clothing, but you had to write about it? Great example to other women.

  • EPJ

    Such an unkind column.

  • gorilla monsoon

    I may have said this before, but those glasses are ugly and make her look ugly. Also, she needs a new hair stylist. This hair-do makes her look 10 years older.

  • DaiWilliams

    I like her glasses – she’s smart, alert, confident