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Commentary: For women in public eye, looks matter

  • Story Highlights
  • Campbell Brown: RNC should help Gov. Palin pay for clothes, hair and make-up
  • Women regularly in the public eye face a double-standard, Brown contends
  • Brown: What matters is Palin's qualifications, not her wardrobe expense account
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By Campbell Brown
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Editor's note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN's "Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the "Cutting through the Bull" segment of Wednesday night's broadcast.

Campbell Brown says women in the public eye face a double-standard when it comes to appearance.

Campbell Brown says women in the public eye face a double-standard when it comes to appearance.

(CNN) -- There's been a lot of sniping and a lot of stories Wednesday about Gov. Sarah Palin's clothes. reports that the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 on clothes, hair and make-up for Palin on the campaign trail. Now, these are not your tax dollars.

This is money given by Republican donors to the RNC. But the report questions whether it is legal to use campaign cash for quote "personal use."

My issue? There is an incredible double-standard here, and we are ignoring a very simple reality.

Women are judged based on their appearance far, far more than men. That is a statement of fact.

There has been plenty of talk and plenty written about Sarah Palin's jackets, her hair and her looks. Sound familiar?Video Watch Campbell Brown 'Cutting Through the Bull' »

There was plenty of talk and plenty written about Sen. Hillary Clinton's looks, hair and pantsuits.

Compare that with the attention given to Sen. Barack Obama's $1,500 suits or Sen. John McCain's $520 Ferragamo shoes. There is no comparison.

Women get scrutinized based on appearance far more than men. And look, I speak from experience here. When I wear a bad outfit on the air, I get viewer e-mail complaining about it. A lot of e-mail. Seriously.

When Wolf Blitzer wears a not-so-great tie, how much e-mail do you think he gets? My point is for women, unfortunately, appearance is part of the job.

If Wolf or Anderson Cooper shows up on the air without makeup, you think you would even notice? I show up without makeup? Trust me, you'll notice.

This doesn't just apply to TV. All women in the public eye deal with this issue. And it is for this reason that I think the RNC should help Palin pay for clothes, hair and makeup. It is part of the job.

Now, you may think, that's an awful lot of money to spend on clothes, hair and makeup.

Or you may complain, as some have, that it's hypocritical to sell yourself as a "small-town hockey mom" when you are wearing designer clothes. That's fine, just don't ignore the fact that there is a double-standard here. Palin 'doesn't dress like any hockey moms I know'

And personally I think in this campaign, with so much at stake, this is a peripheral issue.


I, myself, have raised plenty of questions about Sarah Palin, much to the annoyance of the McCain campaign. But those questions have been about her qualifications and experience, never her appearance.

Let's keep the focus on what really matters here.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Campbell Brown.

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