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The Beauty Myth: Study Finds Sarah Palin's Looks Lost Votes

The Beauty Myth: Study Finds Sarah Palin's Looks Lost Votes

Between Michelle Obama's bare arms and Hillary Clinton's boxy pantsuits, women can't seem to catch a break. Not even during Women's History Month! Because now (or, should I say again?) Sarah Palin's looks are under scrutiny. A new study suggests her attractiveness may have cost her and John McCain votes last November.

Though the study represents a limited group (students from the University of South Florida), it reinforces previous research that concluded pretty women in powerful positions are perceived as less competent. However the finding, which is to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, says it was not her attractiveness that did her in, but the effect it had on voters' perception of her. It made them see her as less competent, capable, and intelligent. Seems like splitting finely coiffed hairs though, no?

So what's a gal with 2012 presidential ambitions to do — dress down or study up?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 8 years
Don't apologize, I just didn't want to leave the wrong impression. :)
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
Oh, I'm sorry! I wasn't trying to disagree. I was just saying in general I don't like when people curse at work. Don't mind me, I'm just chattering.
stephley stephley 8 years
"Then again, stephley, I hate when my coworkers use curse words at work, because that seems extremely unprofessional and tacky in a work environment." My point was in THAT work environment, like with Runner's glasses, a woman was seen as strong if she cursed and ranted like the men. If she didn't, she was seen as a pushover. No one here is advocating have a potty mouth.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
"According to an article by Tom Jacobs on the website of Santa Barbara's Miller-McCune Center, recently completed research at the University of South Florida indicates that, at least among a select group of students there, those who found the hockey mom more attractive also judged her less competent, less intelligent and less capable." From the original article... I'm glad we're making gross generalizations about society's tendencies based on a few college students. Runnergeek I am in the same boat as you. I was one of just a couple female computer science majors at my college and no one took me seriously. I constantly got: "You don't LOOK like a programmer." But isn't it just extra satisfying when you kick the shit out of your male counterparts?
flutterpie flutterpie 8 years
why is this study even being done?
fcseamstress fcseamstress 8 years
I don't think this study is valid... For one thing it was taken from only a small sampling of population and for another we have no idea if the interviewees for the study were asked what her other perceived shortcomings were. Personally I didn't think she was intelligent enough to be VP because of the things she SAID, not what she was wearing or how much $$ she spent on clothes. Listening to her at the VP debate was just sad... She had no real answers. Granted, Joe Biden didn't really shine either, but she reminded me of my 4th grade teacher, not what I envision the second in command (male of female) should sound like. The cutesy stuff she did just solidified to me that she isn't ready for a position like the GOP tried to put her in. Maybe in 20 years when she's had a chance to see how the world outside the US works, but not now. And starting that 'Joe six-pack' line... Ugh. I don't want our vice president (or president for that matter) to be my friend, I want him/her to be educated, well spoken and carry themselves well. That matters more than looks IMHO.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
I was also going to say that I read the linked article posted somewhere else, and it's really an interesting read.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
Michelann, I hate when I cry at work! It's not super often, but I always feel so unprofessional. Then again, stephley, I hate when my coworkers use curse words at work, because that seems extremely unprofessional and tacky in a work environment. As for Governor Palin...I was pretty excited when she was selected, but I thought her first weeks on the campaign were very mismanaged. Obviously her looks were a factor in some way. I mean, how much time did we spend talking about her hair, her clothes, her makeup? But it's never black and white, and I think those who say being good-looking is a bonus and those who say it's a hindrance are both right.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I think her problem was that she wasn't smart enough to be VP. She couldn't answer basic questions with out blurting out the same canned answer about "Maverick" and "reform". That is why Tina Fey had such an easy time making fun of her, because what she would SAY was just so absurd. And Haus, I don't think that people have anything against "ordinary" people, but it takes above average intelligence to run our country, don't you think? I think people's standards for who they have as mayor or who they have as President are pretty different.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
I didn't see Palin as being genuine, She seemed like she was whatever her running mate and his team wanted her to be. I also didn't see her as someone I could relate to, being a working mother and all. She stood for nothing I support. And the perception of her being untillegent was of her own doing when she spoke. It had nothing to do with her looks.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 8 years
Most women don't like her because she doesn't seem very smart. The whole winking and betcha and by golly act got annoying. if she had actually said anything intelligent I wouldn't mind her but the fact that Tina Fey used her exact answers in SNL and it was one of the funniest things ever doesn't say anything about her supposed intellectual prowess.
Kelly-O Kelly-O 8 years
Honestly, she needs to study up if she has any national political aspirations. While I admire and appreciate the desire to put your family first and make them a priority, I think when you make the decision to run for a national elected office, the priorities change a bit. Family can still be important, but you have to be perceived as intellectual enough to talk with leaders and dignitaries from countries all over the world (especially countries that have different views on women's rights in general and women in positions of power particularly.) I was a supporter, but I would have liked to see fewer winks and "gotchas" and more concrete, certain answers to the tough questions being thrown her way in interviews. A killer media blitz, highlighting a smart AND pretty veep candidate would have knocked the wind right out of naysayers' sails.
I am more likely to believe the exact opposite. I think she got a lot of votes based on her looks. I know many people who thought the idea of voting for a woman was ridiculous, when it was Clinton in the running. But, when this pretty little thing came on the scene, they quickly forgot their sexist statements to support Palin. I can not tell you how many times I heard men state they wanna vote for the "MILF," with no reason to back it up. I think she lost votes based on her stance on the issues, when she could actually form the sentences to make those stances heard.
zeze zeze 8 years
Haus, I meant that she seemed stupid because she acted too disengenuously folksy, thinking it is what people expect and will buy up, and she came off really stupid instead of winning over all Republicans with her old-fashioned charm.
KibzeeLovee KibzeeLovee 8 years
i think she did just a fine job of making herself seem less competent, capable, and intelligent with the words that came out of her mouth.
stephley stephley 8 years
But you don't judge Obama with the same magic, wavering yardstick you use for Palin.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Her politics haven't wavered. Can't say the same for Obama.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Ze - You in one comment chastise her for being folksy and then in the next comment say its a contridiction because she was only folksy. I don't see the inconsistency.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Jessie, don't take it personally. I'm majoring in the social sciences too.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Ouch...Psych major in the room. Such disdsin for my major....
zeze zeze 8 years
Haus, it is hard for me to call her genuine when I see how different she is in one environment to the next. Have you heard her debate when she was running for governor compared her her debate/campaign in 2008? She is like a completely different person - giving people the "classic, homesy, American mom" and leaving out anything that might make her seem to smart, in case the overly traditional base of the party doesn't like seeing a woman acting "manly."
zeze zeze 8 years
Jennifer Grandholm, a beauty contestant (and winner) and PRETTIER than Sarah Palin, and a woman who, when she walks into a room, commands respect and look the part of a state governor. (regardless of your party). The woman dresses the part - professionally, conservatively - acts the part by using intelligent language, and has more in her background than 5 or 6 obscure community colleges - a UCLA grad. I think Palin's "cutsy" self (winks, gotchas, tall leather boots) are what made people take her less seriously and think she is dumb - not to mention her wonderful interviews!
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Maybe she came off as genuinely stupid, to some she came off as genuinely smart, but at least she was genuine. At least she didn't pretend to be a centrist to get elected and then show her true colors once in office.... :ponder:
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I think what sunk Sarah Palin was that in this world of everyone pushing this BS of being "gifted" or being "unique" or whatever, she was just ordinary. And worse, GASP, she was perfectly happy being ordinary. She didn't see taking care of her family to be her cross to bear, she actually enjoyed it. She didn't make excuses for her looks, she was comfortable in her own skin. I don't think people know what to do with someone who is genuine anymore. We're all too used to be people trumping themselves up to being something they're not.
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