About a week ago, I did a short piece about Louise Mensch, a British MP who claims that discussion of her appearance had “obscured” her political statements, and I followed up with a look at Home Secretary Theresa May from here down [gestures], suggesting that the press, being obsessed with this sort of thing, would likely provide more blogfodder.
With that in mind, here is Caroline Flint, currently MP for Don Valley (in South Yorkshire) and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change — I’m guessing she’s for the former, against the latter — as she appeared in Observer Woman in 2009 at the age of forty-seven:
Said Elizabeth Day, who conducted the interview with Flint:
Caroline Flint is undeniably glamorous and, professionally, that posed her a problem: should she ignore her looks and seek to play them down or should she accentuate them and wear clothes that showed her to best advantage?
If she had taken the former route, Flint would no doubt have been mocked for her lack of style in acerbic newspaper opinion pieces asking why our politicians are so dispiritingly dowdy in comparison with the French. By opting for the latter, Flint made herself an easy target for the grey men in government who want to dismiss her as a flibbertigibbet whose pretty little head was not up to the job.
And what does Flint think about it?
She went on to say that she found the attention paid to her looks could be insulting “when it gets in the way of the other things I hope to contribute … It’s a bit of a double-edged sword how you look … I don’t think you can win on it.”
She’s probably right about that.
Caroline Flint was first elected to the Commons in 1997; Labour has held this seat since 1922.
(Title from a Kirsty MacColl tune.)