Fourth estate or catty commentary?

“A white suit jacket she often favours has an uncomfortable looking fastening that causes her stomach and sides to flare out in an unflattering manner.”

Is this a line from Who magazine’s ‘Best and Worst Dressed 2010″ article?

Actually No. It’s a line from an article in our only national broadsheet, The Australian, about our Prime Minister Julia Gilliard.

The Australian media seems to  be obsessed with Julia Gillard’s appearance, from her clothes to her hair and even her earlobes. Never has this been more obvious than in the weeks since she became our first female Prime Minister.

A quick survey on recent articles reveals some true gems, such as the Georgina Safe article from The Australian cited above.

I’m struggling to find the intrinsic news value in articles such as this.

Another example is this Herald Sun article titled “Image Consultant calls for Julia Gillard to be given a Clothing Allowance“.

I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or my (poor) research skills, but  Fairfax did not seem to be covering Gillard’s clothing in the same way as News Ltd.

I found a tongue-in-cheek article by Tony Wright from February 2010, which was not just about Gillard’s “parrot” top but about a number of female politicians.

Mia Freeman wrote an interesting column. Ostensibly it decries the focus on Gillard’s appearance, but I for one hadn’t heard about the twitter posts until Mia brought them to my attention.  Mia writes:-

While the nation waited expectantly for our new leader to make her first public statement after deposing Kevin Rudd, one respected female journalist piped up on Twitter, “I can’t wait to see what she’s wearing.”

And how does all this attention on our female prime minister ’s appearance compare to the attention generally given to our male politicans?

Paul Keating’s penchant for Armani suits was often referred to, and  Bob Hawke seemed to enjoy being photographed topless. Or in  his dressing gown with Blanch D’Alpuget.

Generally though it’s probably fair to say our male politicans do not come in for the same level of srutiny of their appearance. The one very obvious exception being images and references to Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers.

Have a look at this Youtube clip for a reminder.

the budgie smuggler

Let’s hope as the Gillard government grows older, media focus on her appearance wears thin.

Although if she’s tempted to wear the parrot top again…

Posted under: Uncategorized
Dated: Sep 26 2010