I know what you're thinking: It's the day before the most important election in modern history, and we're talking about politicians' hair and makeup? At first glance, it might seem frivolous. But crafting an image that will resonate with the public is not something to dismiss. For female politicians especially, this is a challenge that must be tackled with strategy and skill; and as both beauty connoisseurs and admirers of powerful women, we are fascinated by how it's done.
What's often overlooked is how uniquely tricky it is for female politicians to nail down an aesthetic that communicates all the right messages to a society that is used to men in positions of authority and women in less powerful roles. Scholars agree that to appeal to mainstream society, women running for public office must achieve a delicate balance between professionalism and softness. An image that's too traditionally feminine won't seem authoritative enough, while one that too closely mirrors her male colleagues will be perceived as harsh. Behind the scenes it takes a dedicated team of stylists, makeup artists, and other experts to nail down an image that will play successfully. And today, we are honoring some of those looks.
The following women are accomplished, inspiring, and brilliant, and their well-crafted images reflect that flawlessly. Before you head to the polls tomorrow, take a look at some of the smartest beauty looks in political history.
Bhutto served as the 11th prime minister of Pakistan, the first ever woman to head a majority Islamic nation, and the only woman to serve two terms. Her beauty look communicated a femininity, tradition, and power that complemented her work in-office.
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Businesswoman and politician Shinawatra was the first female prime minister of Thailand. Her polished beauty aesthetic was (and continues to be) admirable. Think sleek buns, matte pink lips, and jeweled earrings.
A former model, this Italian politician had experience in the beauty world before serving in public office. Once she made the career switch, she cropped her hair into a neat pixie and kept her makeup minimal and classic.
As a politician and businesswoman, Geagea has made a fierce impression on the political landscape of Lebanon, having served as the acting president of the Lebanese Forces party during the imprisonment of their party leader and contributing to efforts toward making roads safer for citizens. Throughout her career, Geagea's beauty look has remained consistently chic, feminine, and breathtaking. Soft curls, graphic winged eyeliner, bold brows, and stylish manicures are a few of her trademarks.
(Achieve a Geagea-level cat eye with Nyx Liquid Black Liner, $6.)
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Having served as speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives, Pelosi is one of the world's most accomplished, intelligent women (and a personal hero). Her feminine yet highly professional beauty look, complete with shiny brunette bob and rosy lip colors, has always served her perfectly.
As a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Marri works extensively on budget and finance, while also rocking perhaps the single best brows in politics.
(Re-create Marri's presidential brows with a pomade, like Benefit Cosmetics Ka-Brow! Cream-Gel Eyebrow Color, $24.)
This Burmese politician and diplomat's list of achievements is a mile long. Throughout serving in many powerful political roles, she's always adorned her hair with a swath of flowers, a signature look she adopted from her mother.
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Political activist Steinem pioneered the feminist movement in the late '60s and early '70s, but the community couldn't help but embrace her incredible aesthetic as well—OG proof that feminists can indeed be beauty icons. Over the past 40 years, Steinem has continued to champion women's and LGBTQ rights around the world, while sporting some of the best hair (and eyeglasses) in politics.
France's minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy has had a long political career supporting social and environmental issues. She's always managed to embody so many of the French beauty qualities that we admire here at Byrdie, principally, an ability to appear at once totally chic and mysteriously effortless.
Until 2014, Chinchilla served as the first female president of Costa Rica. Her clean, minimalistic beauty look, complete with sleek blowouts and natural makeup, accurately represented her conservative politics.
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I have always admired Hillary Clinton's campaign vice chairwoman for so many reasons: her composure, her loyalty, and yes, her unfailingly gorgeous makeup. If I were in any sort of political position, I imagine I'd model my look after hers—the mile-long lashes, clean skin, and statement lip colors achieve the perfect balance of professionalism and personality.
(Get Abedin's stunning lip color with Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Wine with Everything Creme, $9.)
Britain's first female prime minister was known for her boldness and aggressiveness, both personally and politically. Her shock of fiery hair and monolithic pearl earrings accurately reflected this persona.
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Our inspiring presidential candidate has gone through quite the beauty evolution over her many years of public service. Over this election season, her neat blond bob and glowing skin have evoked a pitch-perfect energy, approachability, and authority.
And now for something a little less political, read about a day in the life of a Byrdie beauty editor.