Wanting to see Caroline

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:

Caroline Flint in 2009

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.)



  1. Teresa »

    11 January 2012 · 10:15 pm

    I find it interesting that so many women go to extremes of one “style” or another. Either they go full out dreadfully dowdy or they go full speed toward Victoria’s Secret wear. There is a middle road of dressing nicely and not going for the provocative look. The last pol (not wife of a pol) I saw who dressed really well was Christy Todd Whitman – very stylish.

    The photo above is fairly tame, although in this case the pose is where the damage comes into play. Why on a chaise lounge with her feet up? Why not in a wingback chair with her feet on the ground?

    As for the dress, while it’s a great color for her, no girls over the age of 5 should wear puff sleeves – it’s not a good look. Not ever. It looks childish.

    And possibly it’s the color of the photo that is off, but the shoe color is not a match to the dress – wrong – so wrong if the shoe is also going to be red! So she loses the points she gained by having a color that suits her. *sigh*

  2. CGHill »

    11 January 2012 · 10:31 pm

    I went through about 20 pictures before settling on that one. (I may be a horrible sexist, but I’m a carefully-researched horrible sexist. Mostly.)

    Same outfit, standing. I liked that picture a little better, but to me the pose seemed even more forced than this one; I figured on the chaise longue, she was basically, to borrow a phrase, lying back and thinking of England.

  3. Teresa »

    12 January 2012 · 11:58 pm

    Just goes to show I should look more carefully. I didn’t realize they got her to do a “fashion shoot”. Good lord what was she thinking!!! I also know why the dress was ugly. Too often cheap threads look bad for a reason… it’s like the people who create inexpensive clothes have no taste at all. You are right though – the pic of her standing is not better than the one on the chaise. LOL.

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