Liza Mundy’s article “Foxy Ladies” in the September issue of The Atlantic breaks down something I’ve been noticing more and more over the past few years: super made-up anchorwomen. Like, drag-queen-made-up anchorwomen. If, like me, you’ve been wondering what’s going on with the spackled-on look on the ladies of the evening news, Mundy has some ideas.
Mundy, who appeared on Fox News as a guest recently, and was taken aback by the blue eyeshadow (and teased hair) that was deemed the right look for her in the makeup room.
“‘Pageant queen’ was one of the kinder articulations I heard of the female aesthetic at Fox News and its financial counterpart, Fox Business; ‘glamour nighttime’ was another. ‘At Fox, they look very painted,’ a makeup artist at CNN said pointedly. (This makeup artist, like many of those I spoke with, preferred not to be named, for fear of losing future assignments.) A publicist who works with high-profile news makers recalled that Fox covered one client’s face with so much bronzer that she ‘looked like a female George Hamilton.”
I don’t watch a lot of Fox News, but from what I have seen, their anchorwomen are pretty damn hot. Though that’s standard for all women on TV these days (unfortunately), there’s something more going on with the women of Fox. And it’s going on with their makeup.
Mundy argues that the conservative network embraces conservative ideas about female beauty, and its audience is comfortable with women using their looks to get ahead. She also includes quotes from media critic Jack Shafer, who points out “the women you see on Fox are not just winsome, lavishly cosmeticized women, but winsome women paired with older men…the network almost appears to be taking a page from the theory of evolutionary psychology, which argues that women are attracted to prosperous (often older) men, and these men are attracted to women whose youth and curves signal fertility. “
While this makes sense, I’d argue that the overdone makeup is due to another conservative ideal — the belief that women’s looks are the most important thing about them and that what they have to say is only valid if they are beautiful. But conservative types love to tear women down for being beautiful — they often discount a woman’s talents specifically because she’s beautiful. And if their looks are distracting, well, it proves their misguided belief that beautiful women distract men, who can’t control their urges around these sex objects put their for the male gaze. By layering on the makeup, Fox is setting their female guests and hosts up to fail. They may be highly-educated and experts in their field, but they are still reminded of their place each time they sit down in the makeup chair before the show.