Platforms worth more than purses, women worth more than their beauty

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are three definitions of the word “beauty:” first, the quality of being physically attractive; second, the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind; and finally, a beautiful woman.

There has long been a disparity in how the idea and expectation of beauty is applied to women compared to men. A “beauty” is a woman; a man can be beautiful, but the nature of the word does not expect or require a man to be so. As children, we are taught not to judge a book by its cover and that what’s on the inside counts. But this is not what society teaches, especially when it comes to women.

It’s undeniable that women of all ages face pressure to appear younger, prettier, and more sexually appealing. It is a message that’s pounded into our heads with every magazine advertisement, TV commercial, and Miss America pageant. It is a message that holds tremendous potential to shatter a woman’s confidence and comfort in her own skin, and it is a message that long ago should have been deemed backward and obsolete. Yet, it is a message that still persists everywhere.

It is no secret that there are serious presidential candidates who are women, but what I find extremely unsettling is the unjust treatment and criticism these women receive for their appearances and fashion choices.

Why should it matter what Hillary Clinton’s hair looks like or that Carly Fiorina wore 3 and 1/2 inch heels for a three-hour debate? It’s not wrong to dress in classy and appealing way, but the issue is that nobody is writing pages-long articles about the price and designer of Jeb Bush’s suit.

It is inappropriate to discuss physical appearances in politics, where such things are so far from what should be the focus, and it’s especially problematic that such a dichotomy exists between male and female politicians.

Judging a woman on her clothes or makeup is so shallow that it invalidates and lessens how seriously a female candidate may be considered. Even as women’s rights have increased, we still keep returning to mindsets of the past. We can never move forward in any real way until we let go of these former societal standards.

This is a hard and complex time for women, which is something that is often dismissed due to tremendous steps forward in gender equality. The biggest fault in our society is the double standard that women face. A woman is supposed to be strong and independent and monetarily support her family in the same way that her husband does, but at the same time she is held to the role of caretaker, homemaker, and beautifully charming wife. To be just one or the other is often viewed as some kind of fault. No matter what new gender equality bills are passed or laws are implemented, no one can justifiably argue that men and women are viewed equally in America.

The day that men and women are equal will be the day when a woman is not judged by the brands she wears, the style of her hair, or the role she plays in her family. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet.