[Viewpoint] The politics of beauty

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[Viewpoint] The politics of beauty

There is some truth to Muriel Barbery’s saying, “To beauty, all is forgiven, even vulgarity.” In fierce political battles, beautiful female politicians enjoy generous treatment and the public pays them special attention.

For example, Thailand’s new prime minister, and the first woman to be elected to the office, Yingluck Shinawatra, is a beauty who was elected to the post only one month into her political career. Of course, the fact that she was the younger sister of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra also worked in her favor.

The global media received her favorably, praising her beauty and youth. Diplomats from around the world stood in line to shake her hand during her election campaign, and news wires reported the photos of the scene. The Korean media also featured photos of her.

Pakistan’s new female foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, has also emerged as a new star. She visited India recently to resume peace talks between the two countries, and the media focused a great deal of attention on her “goddess-like” appearance. The Indian media seemed to forget its longtime animosity toward Pakistan and went crazy to praise her. One Indian political critic said that Khar would be one of Pakistan’s new weapons of mass destruction.

The Korean media also covered the foreign ministerial talks between the two countries. The main stories said that Khar had captured the Indians with her charming appearance and outstanding fashion sense. They gave a detailed description of the Cavalli sunglasses and oversized Hermes Birkin bag she had with her when she entered India.

In addition to female politicians who are beautiful, the media also gives special attention to women who entered politics because of the tragedies of their husbands or fathers. Some of the most notable examples include Benazir Bhutto, the late prime minister of Pakistan; Corazon Aquino, the late president of the Phillipines; Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s democracy icon; and Park Geun-hye, a Korean lawmaker.

But the most attention is given to female politicians who are beautiful. They are not solemn and serious like those with tragic family backgrounds. They are more cheerful and joyous.

Politics and beauty are inseparable. In the history of politics, a woman’s beauty is as strong as a man’s will to seize power. In the past, beautiful women were known to blind kings and destroy state affairs.

Beautiful yet talented politicians are now stepping up to the front lines of politics these days. Their emergence is welcomed because their presence will help dilute negative images of “Helen of Troy” and begin a new era.

Furthermore, beautiful female politicians have gone beyond controlling men to move the world and take true political control. It is a great achievement.

A beautiful politician will now use her talent to confuse her competitors. Therefore, it is wrong to downplay or be jealous of a beautiful politician just for her looks.

But many have said that the gender of camera lenses and media stories is male. Because men have dominated the field for such a long time, the media have naturally come to see and interpret things with male eyes. That’s why the mass media is filled with photos and articles about beautiful women.

These women live in the public imagination through charming photos and articles created from a male point of view. From the beautiful politician’s position, she now has the power to move the public through the media, a development of her ability to move only one man.

It is undeniable that the public feels happy in front of a beauty. But instead of being swayed by her looks, we should first judge her on her talents and character when selecting a leader and to avoid being captivated by the charm of a beautiful politician from a rival country.

*The writer is the chief editor of the JoongAng Ilbo online edition.

by Yang Sun-hee
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