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...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Heroine Chic - Part Three


I feel very good about myself, vis-à-vis this 3 part series on the Good, The Bad, and the Downright Ugly of female world leaders.

Next time someone asks you, with a hint of superiority in their expression, "Have you seen that get-up Senator Ana Julia Carepa was wearing the other day?", you can look them straight in the eye, and say, "Why yes, yes I have. She looked like the losing QB in the Lingerie Bowl."

They'll seethe inside and walk away, as you high-five me allegorically. Life's good.

Now comes the hard part -- the Ugly Ducklings of the female leadership community.

You know how they say comedy is harder than drama? I never knew what a truism that was until today. How do you sustain that much vitriol and not make your readership hate you?

Oh right. Women are supposed to be good at that, and even use vague biological "disorders" to warrant them. Never mind then, on with the show!

Luisa Diogo, President of Mozambique

You know how when you were 5-years old, and were at Great Ormands getting your tonsils out, when, suddenly, into your ward walked a clown? Not just any clown, but one with the loudest combination of inappropriate objects ever worn by a human not named Tammy Faye Bakker?

Well, it's deja-vu all over again, baby!

I often fantasise about interviewing women so outlandishly dressed as Luisa Diogo. This is how the transcript of said meeting would look like:

"Hey, wat up."

"Please get to the point quickly. I'm a President of a country, and don't have the time you bloggers so obviously do on your hands." (sneer)

"Oh. Right. So, what's the deal with choosing clothes fabric and colours which clash with every known skin-complexion known to mankind? Are you an anarcho-fashion-terrorist like Yoko Ono or what?"

"Listen, we all need a schtick. Margaret Thatcher had her Texas Big Hair. Indira Gandhi had her too-tasteful saris and the camera loved Benazir-of-the-Seven-Veils. Well, this is my schtick: I wear bright happy LSD-induced colours, sue me."

Many years of litigation later, and I still don't get it. Possibly why has to do with my inability of imagining my body in dresses like that, even under the threat of a junta-collapse.

As the saying goes though, "Walk a mile in my Vera Wang muu-muus". You go Luisa!

Dr. Angela Merkel, CDU Leader

Stop the casting calls for The Hobbit! We have found the once, the future, the only Bilbo Baggins!

Now I know what you're thinking. "Hey, cool bobblehead of Rue McClanahan".

But I have to burst your bobble. That's Dr. Angela Merkel, the feisty CDU Leader of Germany.

And let me just say, I've tried my level best to be fair to Angie, I really have. Here are my Photoshop efforts trying to re-arrange her face to make it more palatable to you.

Actually that last stretch isn't so bad.

How far do you think we could go with her left eyebrow before she looks like Mark McGwire with a mop? Before Balco.

There...ooh...no...wait...oops...a bit more...finally...argh! I lost it. She looked GREAT there for a second, honest.

Ooh, caption contest time again, me next!

Gerhard Schröder: "I have a fubar headache just looking at her."

You know, I wonder how many politicos had their sure ascent to the top ruined by people echoing those very sentiments? And European office terms last longer, too.

I'm not sure people are ready to stare at Dr. Angie Merkel for 5 years, when even we can't do it a full 5 minutes. Don't forget the Bayer aspirin goodie-bags as you exit.

Dr. Masoumek Ebtekar, Vice-President of Iran

This is Masoumek Ebtekar of Iran.

This is Masoumek Ebtekar of Iran on drugs.

Remember kids, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Remind me again: was New Zealand ever a penal colony? Like, in the past 3 years? So why does Helen Clark look like the Warden of a woman's prison?

Actually, when I first laid eyes on Helen Clark a few years ago, I thought to myself -- wow, she looks like a nun I once had for maths at school, who had left her Order, and who I bumped into shopping quite casually at Tesco's one evening.

You never really know a person, until you've stared into their shopping basket, you know?

Anyway, Helen Clark looks mighty uncomfortable with earthly possessions -- like a good haircut. You instinctively feel she would call such things "fripperies".

Fripperies would also include bath nights on any day not starting with the word "Saturday", underwear made of anything but calico, and possibly, but not exclusively, Kylie Minogue.

Here's Helen in one of her more daring outfits.

Deep down inside, Helen Clark wishes she could be as comfortable with her body as Dolly Parton is with hers.

Until then, we all just have to enjoy blue rayon and pray for parole.

Ann Widdecombe, MP, Shadow Home Secretary

I did say I wasn't doing the bleeding obvious, but since I'm talking about politicians, I should be allowed a weency white lie. Ann Widdecombe is my meal ticket to Vanity Fair, and I'm taking it!

As you can see, Ann is like the polar opposite of Helen Clark.

She's a tigress, unafraid of mixing red lipstick with a mottled kabuki complexion and the worst dye-job this side of Maradona in his post-Boca Junior days.

Like Maradona though, she has survived her share of health scares, so one shouldn't judge too harshly. I too wanted to wear nothing more than a tartan pup-tent upon release from hospital once.

Above you can see Ann Widdecombe in her leisure hours, an avid frequenter of seaside fairs, with its many funhouse mirrors, thinking, "I'm tall, skinny, and male. What a lark!"

I myself shun fairs for more brainy pursuits, as my readers know too well -- and there's nothing like an anagramme for intellectual stimulii.

Here are my efforts for "Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe":

1- Broad broom-handle, genuine witch

2- Big ass knockers, Wimpie cheeseburgers

3- Whoomp! There it is, you scum asylum seekers!

Interestingly, my full name in anagramme form yields this nugget of hilarity:

"Vanity, thy name is slapper, and thy tool is blog"

Dayum! That hit too close to the knuckle for my liking.

Dr. Condoleeza Rice, US Secretary of State

In the unholy cannon of photo-ops, there are some pictures that stand out more than others, you'll agree.

Who can forget Lyndon Johnson showing the world his gallbladder scar?

Or Nikita Krushchev banging his shoe on the UN podium?

Or Winston Churchill giving Clement Atlee the bird as he left 10 Downing, cleverly disguised though it was as a "victory sign"?

But few photos in world history have had the power to amuse to the point of nose-spillage as the infamous one of US Presidential hopeful, Governor Michael Dukakis.

Until now.

Condi, Condi. Why?


And so ends a quixotic 3-part series on female world leaders and their collective bad hair days. I hope you've had as much fun as I have gathering this list of Raggedy Annies for your pleasure, and I'm sure many of us learned a thing or two from the experience.

I know I did -- never to run for office, because if I do, I know I'm a dead duck.

Finally, for those of you who thought I was too hard on my sisterhood, let me tell you -- I would be deadly to male leaders too, especially those who have what Wolfgang Joop once called that "mummy dressed me look".

So before you get too smug, fellas, I leave you with this below.

Look! It's Sgt. Stryker's Lonelihearts Club Band!


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