Women in power – reel or real life – are always judged based on their appearance.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent Vogue feature was not one of your usual beauty lessons. What was expected to be ‘All about AOC’s makeup methods’, turned into an insightful conversation about politics and femininity – more specifically, how Capitol Hill views women in politics.
One generally associates the magazine, Vogue with glamour and beauty which makes its coverage restricted to glamour celebrities – actors, models or television personalities. The Get Ready With Me style videos are a regular on Vogue’s YouTube channel. The series is called ‘Beauty Secrets’, and has featured several big shots from the glamour industry, the likes of Kardashian sisters, Rihanna, Lily Aldridge. However, the series has never featured a politician.
Nevertheless, they couldn’t have started with a better name than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest congresswoman in the history of the United States of America. Despite being only 30 and a woman of color, she is one of the strongest voices in American mainstream politics today. Needless to say, even when she did a Vogue video, she did it in true AOC fashion!
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s Beauty Lessons – Red Lips and Congress
Right at the beginning of the video, Ocasio-Cortez lets us know that it won’t be a usual skincare/makeup lesson. Her conversation began addressing her eye bags, sharing the fact that working in politics means perpetual lack of sleep.
Watch: Ocasio-Cortez’s Vogue video
Ocasio then set the premise. She talked about life as a Congresswoman and about how Washington judges women politicians on the basis of their appearance. She went on to share the constant makeup headache with the amount of travelling involved and the exhausting confrontations with cameras every single day. Moving on to more interesting aspects, Ocasio-Cortez opened up about her struggle to adjust with the shift from working at a restaurant to being a member of the Congress, and how her makeup changed with it. The Congresswoman manages has a portable makeup bag to make it easier to travel. All of her makeup lessons are about practicality – from a double wear foundation to sunscreen.
Then came the tale about her famous red lips. A red lip, as per AOC, is her way of boosting confidence on the days she needs it. She decided to embrace the red lip while running for the primaries. The red lip is her way of “looking put together while hustling every day”. AOC also credited the red bold lip to her Latin background.
Femininity and Power
Ocasio-Cortez stated that her reason behind doing a video like this was to break the stereotype around women being frivolous if they care about makeup or fashion. She calls skincare and beauty choices that most women make every morning more substantive that they are thought to be. “Femininity has power,” says Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
More importantly, she opened about the rot that runs deep in out societies – a culture that’s “predicated on diminishing women” and “preying on their self-esteem”. She summed up makeup as a “radical act — “almost like a mini protest”. She emphasized on the fact that loving oneself almost becomes an act of defiance in a society that keeps showing women down on, judging them on parameters like weight and fairness. She exclaimed, “When you stand up and say, ‘You know what? You don’t make that decision. I make that decision,’ it’s very powerful.”
“At a certain point, I just learned that you cannot get your feelings of beauty and confidence from anyone but yourself.”Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Applying concealer, AOC explained, “If I’m going to spend an hour in the morning doing my glam, it’s not going to be because I’m afraid of what some Republican photo is going to look like…. It’s because I feel like it,” moving onto using a contour stick from Fenty Beauty, an inclusive, groundbreaking brand by another fellow Queen, Rihanna.
Ocasio then talks about the pink tax, which is basically gender-based price discrimination. She uses phrases like “If you are a person who needs a tampon,” where she uses the term person instead of women to include the trans community, which every 21st-century politician should. She also talks about the wage gap and several other issues. Fittingly enough, AOC ended with a statement as fierce as her red lip, “If I had to give one piece of advice, it is that the key to beauty is the inside job.”
From US Congress to Game of Thrones
What Ocasio did essentially is show millions of women that power and femininity can coexist. We live in a world where women don’t have the luxury to have both together, whether it is on-screen or off-screen. Let’s take the example of the ground-breaking HBO series, Game of Thrones. Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, cuts her hair off and essentially her femininity, when she finally gets a chance to sit on the Iron Throne. Across the world, several women who turned from glamorous professions into elected policy makers are ridiculed for being apparently “too dressed up” for parliament sessions. Some veteran politicians, deeply entrenched in misogyny, feel deeply offended, term it an outrageous act.
Watch: Cersei Lannister becomes Queen
AOC is no less than a revolutionary figure in herself and has achieved that status in a very short time. She is inspirational and relatable. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, through her Vogue beauty lessons, demands that we, as women, dictate the narrative of beauty rather than letting it dictate us.
It inspires to rise to power and dare to look fierce while doing it.