The Sexist

Sarah Palin, Lip Hairs and All

The Oct. 13 issue of Newsweek features an up-close-and-personal photo of Governor Sarah Palin on the cover. The photograph (above), by Nigel Parry, is a tight shot of Palin's face. In person, the image is more striking: the wrinkles are deeper, the stray hairs darker, the pores more defined.

Fox News yesterday had a field day with this one. (video below)

"Have you seen the latest cover of Newsweek," asked the anchor, the disgust evident on her face, before introducing her two pundits: "Republican Media Consultant" Andrea Tantaros (hated it) and Julia Piscitelli of American University (thinks you guys might be exaggerating a little bit).

Tantaros called the cover a "gross slap in the face," objecting to the fact that the photo appeared "un-retouched." Said Tantaros, "it highlights every imperfection that every human being has, but we're talking unwanted facial hair, pores, wrinkles." The anchor chimed in, saying, "When they put you up close and personal on a magazine, even the gorgeous super models in the world, they retouch you to get rid of the normal flaws that human beings have. That's what they do in the magazine business. They didn't do it for Governor Palin."

The cover was particularly grating to Tantaros when compared to Newsweek's cover shots of Barack Obama. "After Newsweek has done so many favorable covers of Barack Obama that make him look presidential, that are clearly retouched. He looks flawless," she says, adding: "He looks perfect, Julia. He looks perfect."

"This is reality," countered Piscitelli, after noting there was no evidence that an Obama cover had been retouched, either. "Demanding that political figures get retouching like super-models on the cover of news magazines is going a little far. What's wrong with showing women the way they actually look, especially a woman as beautiful as Sarah Palin?"

I agree with Piscitelli that it's absurd to ask news publications to adhere to standards set by fashion magazines. Photoshopping women's bodies and faces—a process that takes even the most beautiful women in the world and distorts them to flawless, often anatomically impossible Barbie dolls—is out-of-control in women's magazines; we don't need Newsweek reinforcing an absurd standard of beauty on politicians, too.

But Tantaros raises an interesting point when she describes Obama's photos as "flawless" and "perfect" (even though my guess is that Obama wasn't Photoshopped, either). Obama and Palin are two of politics' most beautiful people, but the playing field for political playboys and girls is uneven: When women show flaws, they's called unattractive; when men do, they're called "rugged." (And when they've got spit on their mouth, they're called "Internet Gold.") So even without a delicate post-shot softening, Obama is a lot closer to "perfect" from the get-go. It's not because Obama is implicitly more attractive (though he is, for the record, extremely, achingly attractive). It's because he's a dude.

Still, let's take a moment to remember why the standards of beauty for women are so absurdly, unnaturally high in the first place. Oh, right, it has something to do with Photoshop (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C).

There is one point where Tantaros and I agree. Tantaros objects to the headline "She's One of the Folks (And that's the problem)," saying it's an "insult [to] the folks of America [to] call that a 'problem.'" I think Newsweek did well in putting a real Palin shot on the cover. But by pairing that "real" photo with the assertion that Palin's "realness" makes her unqualified to be president (true), Newsweek also implies that Palin's physical realness is a "problem" (problematic).

To recap: Showing real women, flaws and all—good thing; using a woman's physical flaws to illustrate flaws of character, politics, and experience—bad thing.

MORE: Sarah Palin's Entire Existence is Sexist..

More on Nigel Parry: Parry also shot Palin for Newsweek during the Republican National Convention, alongside McCain. For the July 16 issue of Newsweek, Parry shot Barack Obama (the photo is in black-and-white and not-so-close-up). Check out Parry's other work here.

Comments

  1. #1

    This whole thing just made us miss the presence of Carly Fiorina in the McCain campaign, cause it used to be her job to get out there and claim that absolutely everything related to the coverage of Sarah Palin was somehow sexist.

  2. #2

    I really don't see what the big deal is with the close-up. I am not a big Palin face, but looking at the picture objectively she looks like the rest of us which actually will work more in her favor. I would be more likely to vote for a real woman the someone who looks like some air brushed super model. I would be more likely to listen to her as an educated intelligent woman. Whats the big deal? At our age we get lines on our face and I never even saw the facial hair they are talking about. So what???

  3. #3

    Haven't you people learned your lesson with the
    George W. Bush fiasco. Choose substance over style
    when it comes to the President. DOn't be fooled again
    by a bright smile and zero brains.

  4. #4

    Talking about Sarah Palin,what's important about her is her substance and intelligence. I personally doesn't care about her facial hairs or whatever physical imperfections she has in the picture.She's not a ramp model or an actress who is there to give us entertainment and other superficial enjoyment.What if there is somebody who look like the ugliest person but have done a remarkable deed,is that person not worthy to be put in the cover of Time Magazine without being retouch to the extent that he/she wouldn't be recognizable? Enough of the superficiality

  5. #5

    First Palin looks great no matter if they touch it up or not. The woman even with all her so-called flaws looks better then many women her age.

    As for Obama, it

  6. #6

    Hey do you Fox ladies don't think people laugh about you! Your plastic faces, perfect bleached, dyed (whatever) hair sexy low cut or low vee tops! Real people don't obsess about such stupid things. If you think you are the cats meow let me break it to ya...ya ain't all that!

  7. #7

    I honestly think the response to the cover is more sexist than the cover itself.

    There have been plenty of closeups of older men with skin full or wrinkles on the cover and no one claimed them to be 'flaws' that should have been hidden in order to somehow help him maintain his integrity. The fact that the people crying wolf attribute a woman's looks to something that can ultimately be a 'flaw' in her and her overall appeal in, not a beauty contest, but a political election, shows you a lot about their view of women.

    We are all humans, and what happens to humans when they get older is that their skin wrinkles. There is nothing 'flawed' about that.

  8. #8

    NEWS WEAK HA; SARAH PALIN HAS A VERY NICE FACE SHE IS NOT A PHONY NEWSWEAK HA

  9. #9

    Newsweek is a big piece of S#%& magazine. Palin has more substance and intelligence than those that oppose her views. I think she is correct in voicing her concern about the context in which this photo was published but if I were advising her I would simply told her to ignore the matter completely. That would really get the idiots talking!!!!

  10. #10

    I personally like the pic. Palin is a real person. If it were Pulosi you would need a fold out section with a complimentary barf bag. If I had not gotten the flu, I never would have even seen your liberal crap magazine.Must have been there next to the public water closet in case a toilet paper usage tax is imposed

  11. #11

    I think she is a very attractive woman.Leave the lady alone. Put her next to Mrs. Clinton or Pelosi ! You liberal morons.

  12. #12

    She is still more beatiful in this pic than the liberal ladys like woopy and ophrah and hogs like rossane

  13. #13

    I think anyone who thinks Obama is extremely, achingly attractive really needs an eye examine. This entire article should be considered suspect because the author oviously lacks any kind of objectivity.

  14. #14

    Seriously folks - shocked and horrified, I'm not (as per the correspondents comments). What I am is sick of all of the needy Palin bashers. Get a life. She's probably done more in 10 yrs of her life than you've done in 30 of yours. I do not read News Week, and thank goodness I now I'm now missing a thing. What a bunch of dumb A$$es, the latest cover in her running shorts takes the cake. What a bunch of twits.

  15. #15

    Most people over 35 would look like shit in a close up like that,she looks good.

  16. #16

    Sarah WHO CARES..............get over it! Always a complaint everybody's picking on me...Enough already.

  17. #17

    Oh gosh people.... Seriously? She's a person, not perfect, no one is. Get over yourselves. She looks fine wayyy over reacting u guys. Chill......

  18. #18

    I don't get how this could be seen as a slam. She looks very pretty and dignified.

    Anyone complaining about wrinkles around the eyes (or lack of photo doctoring) needs to take a look in the mirror for a reality check. Only botox queens lack the beauty of natural facial features. If you want to see that, go look at the airbrushed pages of a fashion rag or Playboy.

  19. #19

    Photo journalism should not be an issue when it comes to life. Leave the mundane and talk about about issues. It is only when politics is played with morality that we can have real solutions to problems that confronts humanity.Let us shun the world of make-believe for reality.

  20. #20

    She has a charm that could melt a polar ice cap. I like her and Im sure that's the same for a lot of guys. She's a lovely and adorable woman. Trust me, she is the lady of my dreams!

  21. #21

    I think that Gov Palin is a very beautiful lady. All you have to do people is open your eyes and take a look. Alaska and the entire U.S. should be proud to say she's one of ours.

  22. #22

    The point blank laziness and lack of common sense of the majority is why we are in the situations we are in. All you people seem to just ..go with the flow. The media dictates what we hear and see...why is that so very difficult for most. Like Palin or not why do we have to keep hearing and talking about all of the drama...what is going on is just a waste of time and brain power!! You people just give them what they want-attention and money for the attention-fairly nice of you to help her financially by paying attention to all of this drama. How does it feel to be lead by that invisable ring in your nose. Aren't there more important things to be getting educated on-heck you can watch all the drama you want with all these crazy reality shows etc. You are all so easily swayed-->believe everything the media tells you, just like the way you believe the lies dished out to you in your personal life-> kind of goes along with the very short memory that you all seem to have, for you it seems to be easier to "live with the moment". Feeling sorry for the illegals that REFUSE to follow the system correctly until one day...you personal life becomes touched by one of them because of something horrible that happens either directly or indirectly to a loved one---> then perhaps you will see that what they are doing is WRONG and the people fighting for them to continue to be here illegally are way out of line. Of course it's much better to help rule breakers from other countries but our own are left to suffer. Helping others is a beautiful thing however we have a mess in our own yard to clean up first BEFORE we start inviting company over.

  23. #23

    This article is over a year old. Dummies.

  24. #24

    I did not and will not vote for Mrs. Palin but why is the only thing you have against her is she is bold speaks her mind and knows what she wants. Is there a problem with women with strong opinions? Finally we can say what we believe and not what our husbands believe. The only thing you can find wrong is an older woman with wrinkles and a few stray hairs? Keep it up Mrs. Palin they are worried you will make it and change things instead of the old status quo.

  25. #25

    Frankly, I wouldn't line my birdcage with Newsweek. Media/Journalism is D*E*A*D in this country.

  26. #26

    All Iwant to know about Sarah Palin is...where did she buy those fab glasses. I love them. That's about all I like of her.

  27. #27

    There is not a perfect woman, what's the big deal, Palin is "mamacita" to me with facial hair, pores, wrinkles, etc. I didn't or would vote for her, but she's a "mujer bonita walking on the street" If her husband doesn't want her, I'll take her.

  28. #28

    Newsweek took an existing full head shot and zoomed in. This is an old topic and has been overly discussed. The photographer did not shoot it like that. News magazines do not retouch any images. She should only sit for the glossy mags if she is afraid of her reality.
    She looks great and real.

  29. #29

    It's not about what's on her head, it's what's in it. And everytime she opens her mouth it seemingly decreases to nothing. For the record, I agree with the author. Because of the photoshopping of female models, it seems people have an impossible expectation for what women should look like. Maybe they should have gotten rid of the facial hair for the sake of people not focusing on it (as is happening now), but they shouldn't make her look like a model. People don't identify with that (especially if the title is "One of the Folks"). And she's already considered attractive by many people.

    As for Obama, I don't think any of his magazine covers look retouched. And I say that because he doesn't look any different than he does in regular photographs. I don't know where Tantaro gets off saying that Obama looks perfect. Sure, he's a good looking guy (not "extremely, achingly, attractive", ew), but I think it is because people have more unrealistic standards for women than men that this is being discussed to such an extent.

  30. #30

    Really??? Come on!! Am I totally out of the loop?? When did Newsweek become synonomous with the National Inquirer??? If beauty is an issue, then this country is in more trouble than these superficial, hypocritical liberals can imagine!! As far as her esthetic flaws, they make her even more beautiful!! Unintelligent, unattractive, insecure people are the only people that would ever include something so insignificant in their perception of someone whose career aspirations could impact the entire country. It just goes to show what these people view as important political issues!! It's sad to see the ignorance of the people who chose the leader of our country and if anything damages the president's and their own credibility!!!

  31. #31

    Her unretouched photo looks awesome! I wish I looked that good!

    I'm a Dem and no fan of Palin, but I cannot stand this sexist BS. If Newsweek has a beef with Palin, it should be about her political views and experience, not her appearance. What pigs they are.

    To those of you who are angry: every time you're in a store and you see Newsweeks, put them in the back of the stacks where nobody will see them or buy them. maybe then the stores will determine that nobody wants to buy Newsweek and will stop offering it.

  32. #32

    To the goof who pointed to GWBush as the poster child for style over substance, what planet have you been on the last 10 years? Bush 43 was panned by the left side of the aisle (which, coincidentally holds 99.9% of the "old" media outlets) for BOTH style & substance.

    Then, in the 2008 the Presidential Election, the US of A elected an empty suit with ZERO experience in the real world (and very little in the academic or political world) over a career Naval aviator. I am by no means a fan of McCain's policies & politics.

  33. #33

    Who cares? Who's the anchor? I mean, she's completely hot!

  34. #34

    Who cares! I am sooo sick of the whole Sarah Palin thing!!! She is constantly whining about the media. I find it funny. As a Black American, I constantly see negative portrayals of my people, but it is using the "race card" if we say something. Good grief lady, just promote your book and stick to the issues so we can get the country back on track. How about her using some of her energy for that?!

  35. #35

    How and why is everyone making such a big fuss over this woman and her book.books are written every day!!this is just a distraction from what reall going on or about to happen!wake pu people,we are all going to be in the soup line come January!! welcome to the Next great depression,bump 2012!! SMOKESCREANS

  36. #36

    Im glad she wrote a book! i still think she is nice looking,but why all the fuss?this aint news unless your buying the book!they're running out of bullshit to feed us!BY January we'll all be in the soup line!!!Bump 2012!! these are just smokescreens!

  37. #37

    Come on... Let Sarah jump on her sled and ride as far north as she can get in Alaska. This lady does not deserve ANY of the attention she is getting. How about doing stories on lets say my neighbor. Everyday people but they are not recognized and yes may have a wrinkle. Sarah is an opportunist to say the least and that my friend is all she has to offer. She and her husband should take up building snowmen and stick to riding their sleds as far away from civilization as possible. Nothing against her but what she does, the extent she will use to get attention and that is undeserved
    Maybe you should run stories on everyday people who write books, poems etc and maybe pay them somehow for being real.. Sorry Sarah your not real but should get real

  38. #38

    I don't get it. She's naturally beautiful. What's wrong with that? Even unretouched, they couldn't make her look bad!

  39. #39

    Sarah Palin she can improve worlds life, example: Stop Wars, Set Peace Love Joy Hope Happy Because She Looks
    Nice Quite Friendly alot more U.S Goverment Funds Would Help Create Green Jobs Globely Reshape The Old/New Worlds
    People Improve Many Countrys Rich and Poor She would just
    Imrove Life For Many Past Present and Future U.S Presidents The Smart People Like Her are being Watched through Media News & News papers. One (1) Day She Will Be a United States First Lady & President. Id Work For Her Improve World Leaders Rest Of The Leaders needs Peace and Quite. Sarah Palin I Voted For You and I would Vote For You 2012 As Our Next United State President.

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