The Foreign Minister’s New Clothes

Perhaps I’m slightly evil, but I always enjoy an article that manages to walk the fine line between complimenting the interviewee, and letting their true personality – even when negative – shine through the piece. The reader is left feeling that the takeaway from the story is their own, rather than one enforced on them by the writer.

This seemed to be the case with Stellar magazine, the glossy pull-out that comes with the Sunday Telegraph, and their story on Julie Bishop. The editor’s note at the start of the magazine set a great tone, stating, “while she’s not the first female to rise to the top ranks of government, she’s the first to do so in designer-clad style.” It finishes by posing the question, “does she need to look good to be taken seriously? Of course not. But it’s also time to bury the archaic belief that she shouldn’t be taken seriously because she does.”

The point was so well made by the editor, that perhaps no article was really necessary. A nice photo shoot would have done the trick. But alas, Julie Bishop was interviewed, and despite the overall intended message being positive, to me, she ended up sounding like a prime example of, well, a bit of a snob. And it has nothing to do with her wardrobe.

After scrolling through her iPhone at the start of the interview to show Stellar her “Amal set” (Amal is apparently the wife of actor George Clooney), she keeps scrolling to find photos of herself and other big names, “we’re all waving at Justin Trudeau”, she laughed. It’s not off to a good start, but I really want to give this woman the benefit of the doubt.

But then there’s the “mild stand-off” with the wardrobe team, and I’m officially out. Bishop does not want to wear the clothing picked out for her by the fashion editor, stating “I am not a model. I am a foreign minster.” How tempting it would have been to reply with a “yeah…duh.” They eventually struck some sort of compromise, and Bishop put on the damn clothes, as every other normal person who does a photo shoot has to do.

While initially the piece is quite complimentary and sending a positive message (as best they could, I guess), it takes an unfortunate turn. A quote is referenced where a nameless person, described as a “former colleague” stating, “She can be flirty. The personality changes, and the blokes like it. I’ve seen it work. She knows how to use it.”

Blergh. Was this not supposed to be a you go girl, you can wear those fancy Armani pants and still be a damn good business woman type piece? Why throw in some no-name comment from someone saying she’s a good flirt? A completely subjective opinion which sends the opposite message to what the piece is trying to portray.

By this stage of the article, I’m temporary back on team Bishop. Purely because I’m pinged off with that silly and unnecessary quote.

My loyalty is short-lived, however, as Bishop drops a few more names, stating that she’s met some “challenging, interesting, charming, and robust” people, including Obama, Hilary and the Russian Foreign Minister. I guess if she’s asked the question, she’s going to answer it. So I try not to be a Judgy McJudge.

But here’s the kicker. She describes herself as “pragmatic”. I’m sure this really shows depth of my assholism, but never, in my entire 27 years (cough), have I ever met a person who throws that word around who isn’t a complete poo-poo head.

She ends by saying that she “has a very challenging career, a satisfying personal life, and I am enjoying every moment of it.” I’m not being sarcastic (no, seriously!) when I say I think that’s great. If she’s truly happy, then that is beautiful.

But the point of the piece – that it shouldn’t matter how you dress, as long as you do your job properly – which I assume she does, was kinda lost in all the arrogance. But hey, that’s just my “pragmatic” opinion.

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