‘Was the President Wearing Bronzer?’ – Are You Kidding Me?!

Mr. President, you’re looking a bit too good for my liking!


Oh, humans.

Humans, humans, humans.

Moments like these make you shake your head in disbelief.

It was a momentous Martin Luther King Jr holiday—the first Black President of the United States was sworn in for his second term, and regardless of whether you support the President’s politics, it’s still an important occasion. It wasn’t a fluke this man was elected, it wasn’t tokenism or novelty. He was deemed most able to run our country by the majority of Americans, and that is particularly meaningful on this day.

But what are some people talking about? Whether or not he was wearing bronzer! Yeah, that golden-hued powder brushed over people’s skin to make their skin look more “warm”. The Daily Mail covered this hard-hitting topic while also noting that the President recently returned from his home state of Hawaii.

Regardless of whether you think he was wearing bronzer or sporting an Aloha State tan, the very fact that people care enough to write an article about the topic speaks to the way in which our society is grasping desperately at the gender binary. It doesn’t matter whether or not the Prez needed a little touch-up for his big day, to some people, men shouldn’t wear make-up. Ever! Not on TV, not at their inauguration, not in their own homes, not anywhere! Make-up is for ladies, you know.

And ladies, you should know that according to many of the same people, we must always be wearing make-up. Seriously girls, don’t you dare step out of your house without lipstick! What would people think? They might think we care more about our jobs than our beauty, and that would be terrible. I mean, what if our former Secretary of State spent a little more time on make-up and a little less on foreign diplomacy? Wouldn’t that just make us feel better? Oh, wait…

It’s goofy. Let’s remember that everyone wants to look good on camera, but not everyone is obsessed with it all the time. It’s make-up. Put it on or don’t. Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s nobody’s business.

Madame Secretary, you’re just not looking good enough for me!



Lead photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivias

Mrs. Clinton: AP photo


About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. wellokaythen says:

    Everyone running for President on national TV or serving as President in the TV era has used make up. All the men have, ever since Nixon learned the hard way in 1960 that you’ll look ghoulish without it. Everyone knew that Reagan wore make up and dyed his hair, but somehow no one seemed bothered by it.

    Is the American public shocked that a male President would wear make up? Seriously? Do they have no idea how television works? Do they think the newscasters just roll out of bed looking like that?

  2. Being able to look good on TV is now a requirement of elected office, and has been since before we were born, Joanna. Richard Nixon went on TV looking all jowly and sporting a 5-o’clock shadow that made him look criminal compared to the fair and flawless JFK, and it’s been a known rule ever since. No more fat, short, toothless, or homely Presidents for us, not since the dawn of television.

    Our valuation of women is so much worse because while we evaluate many things, stupidly, on their appearance, we’ve traditionally valued women in large part for their appearance of sexual availability or maternal warmth (bonus points for both); it comes that much more naturally to us to appraise a politician who is a woman based on not just whether she looks “presidential” or has “gravitas” but whether she’s also conventionally attractive for her gender: a tough trick, given our standards of feminine beauty. For this reason, I fear the people would never elect, only ever appoint, our highly capable, yet moon faced Secretary of State to any other office. It’s a tragedy for us, of course, since we insist that our elected officials be not only excellent at the job of being president, but also of looking like what we think presidents should look like. We got eight years of Reagan for our wisdom.

    Maybe Clinton’s decided not to bronze at all, ever, and instead put all of her stake into her strength: doing her job so well that whatever tall, bronzed man is standing in the Oval Office must realize the political necessity of appointing her to a critical position. I’m no beauty, either; there’s a lesson to be learned, here, about succeeding in a somewhat shallow society.

  3. I was under the impression that pretty much anytime someone(man or woman) was on TV whether acting(some would claim that’s what politics actually is!) or on some talk show, that a makeup artist is usually applying a ‘touch up’ on them. I personally am more concerned with how ‘Obamacare’ is going to effect my medical plan than whether the Presidents tan is natural or ‘spray on’!

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