Did you know that politicians love make-up? In these times of high definition television, even the most committed feminist TD’s will have some make-up help in advance on going on camera. But, according to a report from the Telegraph newspaper in the UK, the latest trend in Westminster is the rise of the male peacock. In London, not even the most macho of male politicians are brave enough to face the cameras without a little bit of foundation to deal with shine or red-colour.
It got me thinking to one of our own recent Taoisigh who was renowned for his expenditure on make-up – every year when his Department’s spending figures were released, I was asked for a comment by the media and while it seemed exorbitant even by Celtic Tiger standards, he was obviously very conscious of how his personal image impacted on his ratings!
Gone are the days of bushy eyebrows, shiny poorly cut suits, and yes, even bald patches! UK Prime Minister David Cameron has gone to great lengths (pardon the pun) to growing his hair to sweep over the offending bald patch at the back of his head. There is an accepted focus on looks which, while it may be grossly unfair, it seems to be the accepted norm. Of course any public representative will argue that they should be judged on what they say and what they do rather than how they look, but in this highly visual world that we live in, we are more and more swayed by how these people present themselves.
Interestingly, in the UK Nick Clegg bought a running machine for his Cabinet Office after a few unflattering photographs appeared of him with a paunch while Ed Miliband has seen his personal ratings rise after he invested in some decent suits – evidence that well-cut, well-fitting clothes never do any harm.
If you find yourself distracted by someone’s dodgy suit and tie combinations, you’re too distracted to focus on what is coming out of their mouths. While women in the public eye have had to put up with people scrutinising their appearance for years, and have at to be constantly mindful of what their image is saying about them, their male colleagues now seem to be getting more conscientious! Think about how well our ex-President Mary McAleese represented us, particularly during the visit of the Queen of England – displaying beautiful style and colour and promoting Irish designers in the process.
Looking any way dishevelled or unprofessional, male or female, is an absolutely no-no. I would go so far as to suggest that no matter what kind of business you are in – whether its politics or main-stream business, you and your staff members need to ensure that you ‘look the part’ at all times, particularly when client facing or when pitching for new business.
Oh, and don’t forget the ‘war-paint’ for the cameras!