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Diversity and Politics: Why Appearance Still Matters in the Political Scene

Throughout history, societies have placed great importance on appearance. Despite changing beauty standards, politicians' appearances have remained relatively constant. However, it's worth questioning why people tend to vote for "ordinary" candidates and why there aren't more examples of LGBTQ+ individuals involved in politics.

Kennedy-Nixon Debate :

When a Vice President and a Senator participated in the first nationally televised presidential debate on September 26, 1960, a portion of the modern political landscape was altered. 70 million Americans watched the debate live, turning it into an electronic spectator sport. In addition, it provided many prospective voters with their first opportunity to see actual presidential candidates in person and as potential leaders. Being recently admitted to the hospital due to a knee injury, Nixon appeared sick when he showed up for the debate. When he arrived at the TV station, the vice president re-injured his knee but insisted on continuing with the debate. Nixon was offered stage makeup by the TV presenter, but he refused. Similarly, Kennedy initially turned down the offer and opted to have his own team handle his makeup after spending weeks on the campaign trail getting a tan. The next day, polls showed that Kennedy was slightly favoured to win the general election. In November, he won by one of the smallest margins in history, defeating Nixon.

Appearance as a marketing tool:

After the first debate on TV, political marketing techniques started to emerge. Political impression strategies are crucial in shaping voters' perception of candidates, essentially turning a political party into a "brand" that voters consume. This involves using advertising techniques to win elections, conducting surveys to identify voters' demands, and creating products that appeal to the majority of the public. To create an appealing political image, politicians and their teams eagerly employ marketing strategies, which are no longer limited to promoting physical goods. Attractive facial characteristics are also a must-have in the political sphere. A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that voters' perceptions of candidates' physical characteristics have a significant impact, and there is an apparent global consensus regarding what makes a "good-looking" leader. As Helen, Lewis stated, the politics of power dressing is another important field that needs to be looked at if we want equality. The patriarchic navy suit for men and the "feminine" pantsuit version for women which is an also attempt to claim both men's power and men's fashion, show "great characteristics and professionalism upon a leader". As individuals, it's important for us to carefully consider the qualities that make a strong political candidate, without simply judging based on appearances. We must approach this task collectively.

The power of diversity in politics:

The importance of diversity in politics cannot be emphasized enough in today's interconnected world. It promotes inclusive governance and enables societies to prosper. Diversity in politics offers several benefits and reinforces a country's democratic foundation. Firstly, it ensures fair representation. Political systems ensure that all citizens' voices are heard and valued by reflecting the demographics and experiences of the entire population. Diverse viewpoints create policies that cater to the needs of everyone, involving people from different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. Secondly, diversity encourages creativity and productivity. Decision-making bodies composed of people with diverse life experiences bring a variety of perspectives to the table, enriching discussions and finding more thorough solutions to complex problems. Policies become more robust, flexible, and well-suited to address the challenges that societies face. Additionally, diversity strengthens democracy and fosters social cohesion. When people observe their diverse identities represented in politics, they feel a sense of belonging and confidence in the political system. Inclusion and representation promote social cohesion and cooperation among diverse communities by cultivating a shared vision of a just and equitable society. In conclusion, diversity is a vital aspect of the political arena. By actively embracing diversity, nations can create a political landscape that truly represents the citizens it serves, resulting in a more vibrant and inclusive democracy for all.


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