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Dear Media: Is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s dress really the most important story?

June 27, 2011 | Karin

Today, Representative Michele Bachmann formally announced her bid for President of the United States.  Regardless of what you think about her politics, it is interesting to watch the media coverage of her candidacy.  The Daily Mail published a story today, How picture perfect Michele Bachmann has stepped up her style game.  Rather than focusing on the substance of her announcement, the article analyzes her style, fashion and look for the announcement in excruciating detail:

Michele Bachmann, looked polished and elegant as she announced her campaign to be the Republicans’ Presidential candidate today.

And while there is no denying that the Minnesota Congresswoman, 55, is an attractive woman, it appears she has stepped up her game when it comes to her style and beauty routine.

As she launched her bid this morning, it was clear that her pale grey dress and matching jacket had been carefully considered.

A nondescript colour, it flattered her skin tone, while remaining understated enough to not detract from the political statement.

The slash neckline was fashion forward yet modest, while the knee-length hem and long-sleeved jacket ensured that no-one could accuse her of being ‘sexy’ (a distracting message if there ever was one).

A triple-strand pearl necklace and matching stud earrings completed the look, which was only let down by a pair of kitten-heel mules, an unfortunate style she seems to have a penchant for. A pair of courts or peep-toes would have been a far more appropriate choice.

Mrs Bachmann’s hair and make-up had not been left to chance though. Her shoulder-length brown locks appeared to have been professionally blow-dried.

Her make-up – which must always be more heavily applied for television and photography – still looked fresh and pretty.

A matte powder-based foundation prevented any shine, black eyeliner and mascara made her eyes stand out, while a soft pink blush and lipgloss lent a youthful look.

But it seems this careful styling is the case more often than not these days.

Fashion and beauty PR Pierce Mattie told the U.S. News & World Report that Mrs Bachmann has ‘considerably amped up with… polished suits revealing an edge of female flair.’

The Republican Presidential candidate has indeed become a pro when it comes to threading the tricky line between stylish and appropriate.

This analysis reads like the notes of a curious scientist studying an unknown subject.  Is a female candidate for President that unusual?  I have not found a similarly detailed newspaper article on the dress or make-up of a male candidate (we all know male candidates wear some make-up for big announcements for the cameras).  Has anyone seen such detailed analysis of any male candidate of any party?

I am curious to watch the media coverage of her.  In college, I remember reading an article in a politics class which compared coverage of female and male candidates for state offices.  The author compared the number of times dress and hair were mentioned and how early in the article they were mentioned.  Now that we have had a serious female presidential candidate and two serious female vice presidential candidates, I thought the coverage might change.  Will we see the media cover Rep. Bachmann’s substantive positions equally to those of her male counterparts?  Only time will tell.

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