Be a politician and become secretary of state, serve on the Supreme Court, or run for president of the United States. All of these are things that women have proven that you can do in American society, showing just how far we’ve come in the fight for gender equality. Women haven’t occupied the most powerful office in the free world just yet, but they’ve made pretty amazing strides, thanks to some seriously bold and always brave ladies who followed their hearts toward their wildest ambitions. We see you, fam!
Of course, being a woman in politics brings with it challenges that most men don’t even have to think twice about. Much of that is due to the scrutiny that women face every day regarding their appearance, so their hair, makeup, and wardrobe are always subject to commentary, even by those who are not fashionably inclined.
So even though every woman in this list is super smart and has a solid record regarding the issues, people remain curious as to how they look without makeup. To that end, we put together a list of female politicians who look rather different without it, despite their seriously impressive resumes. Read on to see!
Sarah Palin shocked the world back in 2008, when the late Senator John McCain announced that he’d picked her to be his running mate. Though she was the governor of Alaska at the time, she was not yet a household name — though that changed literally overnight once she became a candidate for vice president. Although the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Palin remains famous in American politics for her conservative views and Alaskan temperament.
If you’ve ever wondered about Palin’s skincare regimen, you’re not alone in recognizing how healthy she looks. Amy Strozzi, who was Palin’s makeup artist on the campaign trail back in 2008, had some seriously nice things to say about her. “The Governor’s skin is the most beautiful skin I have ever worked with,” she gushed in an interview with Talking Shopping (via HuffPost). “Of course, makeup always helps to create an even canvas, but the condition of her skin was flawless. I attribute it to the clean Alaskan air, lots of fresh fish and protein, and a good fitness regime.” That certainly would explain it!
In 2007, Kirsten Gillibrand began her political career in the New York State House of Representatives in the 20th congressional district, according to ABC News. But she got a massive bump two years later, when New York Governor David Paterson dubbed her the successor to Hillary Clinton’s senate seat. Gillibrand has been a senator ever since, although she aspires to more. In 2019, she announced that she’s running for president of the United States. Who run the world? Girls!
In addition to being a successful senator who’s won multiple re-elections, Gillibrand also found herself struggling with work-life balance out of the gate. “It didn’t take long to see one reason why there are so few female senators: It is hard to find balance between family and office,” she confessed in an interview with Self magazine. “I was serving my constituents, finding time with my husband and taking care of my children; it was easy to forget myself.” You are so not alone, Kirsten.
Fortunately for Gillbrand, it appears she’s got that on lock now, and is ready to shoot for the stars.
Just as Palin shook things up back in 2008, so too did Bronx-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, when, in the 2018 democratic primary, she defeated the ten-term incumbent representative in New York’s 14th congressional district. AOC went on to win the general election, becoming the youngest person ever to do so at 29, according to CNN. Ever since then, she’s been an extremely high-profile member of the 116th Congress, pushing back against the status quo and shaking things up wherever she goes.
The Latinx congresswoman has been lauded as being gifted with social media, as well as being a powerful visual storyteller, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. She’s also known for her bold red lip, as well as her perfect bronze complexion — something she maintains on the reg. “Skin care is a straight up hobby of mine,” she wrote in an Instagram story (via Allure). “I’m a science nerd, and I truly enjoy the science of it, reading about compounds and studies, etc.” Keep slaying those lewks, AOC!
Before Nikki Haley served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the 45th President, she was a two-term governor for the state of South Carolina starting in 2011, according to CNN. Before that, she was elected to the 87th district of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. And before that, she was the president of the National Association of Women Business Owners. So homegirl has been around for a while, and she is an experienced political leader.
But despite her accomplishments — and despite the fact that it seems like everyone can run for president these days — Haley has zero interest in the position. “Truly no one believes me: I am not even thinking about it,” she affirmed in an interview with The Atlantic. “You know what I think about? I think about sleeping in. I do. I think about sleeping in, I think about binge watching TV for a day, I think about not having the stress level that I’ve had for the last eight years.” After all the work she’s done, it’s not hard to see why!
The woman, the myth, the legend, Hillary Clinton is one of the most famous female politicians in American history. Although she did not win the 2016 presidential election against Republican Donald Trump, she did win the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, according to CNN. And that’s on top of her long career in politics, including serving in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as secretary of state and as a New York State senator — and, of course, serving as the first lady while her husband was in the White House.
Clinton has documented how difficult it is to be a female politician and how much work she had to put into her appearance on the campaign trail. “I’ve never gotten used to how much effort it takes just to be a woman in the public eye,” she wrote in her memoir. “I once calculated how many hours I spent having my hair and makeup done during the campaign. It came to about six hundred hours, or twenty-five days. I was so shocked, I checked the math twice.” That’s insane! The struggle is real.
It’s been a while since Condoleezza Rice made regular headlines, but, in her heyday, she was a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman and first African-American to be the provost of Stanford University, the first female National Security Adviser (to President George W. Bush), and the first African-American woman to be secretary of state, to name a few. That’s an impressive list in and of itself.
After serving on Bush’s cabinet, she returned to Stanford to resume teaching. Back then she also talked about her hobbies, which gave a little insight into who Rice is as a person. “I’ve had a chamber music group that I’ve played with here in Washington,” she recalled in a 2009 interview with Stanford News, noting, “I’ll look to get into playing chamber music and practicing piano again, maybe with actually a little bit of time to learn new music this time.”
Rice is also an avid golfer and has enjoyed watching Stanford sports. Her life sounds pretty well-rounded, huh?
Ever since her father was elected President, Ivanka Trump has been by his side, serving as an adviser in the White House, according to CNN. She took a leave of absence from her clothing and accessories brand to accept the role, and she put the Trump Organization on the back burner for the duration of her tenure.
When it comes to makeup skills, Trump definitely has them, and she has one makeup tip that she holds as the most important. “Take off your makeup before bed, no matter what,” she shared in an interview with New Beauty. “As a teenager, my mother once woke me up in the middle of the night to insist I remove my makeup. She felt like it was terrible for the skin, and I tend to agree.” Keep the wipes by your bed, ladies!
Additionally, Trump’s hair game is always on point, even though she eschews one beauty item in particular. “I don’t own a blowdryer, and I’ve never learned how to use one,” she continued. “Most days, I walk to work with my hair still slightly wet.” Who knew?
Although Donna Brazile has served as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, most of the time she’s working behind the scenes to get other people elected or sharing her political commentary on the news. The New Orleans native also has the honor of being the first African-American ever to manage a U.S. presidential campaign. On top of that, she’s an author, a professor, an activist, and a consultant — and, from the looks of it, very busy.
In late 2018, Brazile debuted a brand new look, which subsequently set the internet aflame. Dior Sovoa, one of her makeup artists, talked about how Brazile’s new hair and makeup came to be. “I wanted to see if there was some way that I could make her look professional … but I wanted to focus more on her hair, and the new look going into the new year,” she explained in an interview with The Glow Up. “She started receiving compliments from her family and a couple of correspondents right away,” Sovoa added. ‘It helped her open up to the new look.” We’re definitely here for it, y’all!
If you look up “badass” in the dictionary, chances are you’ll see a picture of Tammy Duckworth next to it. For one, the Illinois senator made history when she gave birth to her second daughter (at age 50, no less), becoming the first sitting senator ever to do so (via Chicago Tribune). She’s also a combat-wounded veteran, and she received a Purple Heart for her injuries. Specifically, she lost both of her legs in a helicopter accident in Iraq, but has survived to become the powerhouse she is today.
The accident that took her legs was many years ago, but it’s still a daily reality for Duckworth. “When I see myself wearing those legs in a mirror, I see loss. But when I see this,” she said in an interview with Vogue magazine, gesturing toward her prosthesis, “I see strength.” She continued, “I see a reminder of where I am now.” Louder again for the people in the back!
Duckworth feels the same about her wheelchair, too. “People always want me to hide it in pictures,” she continued. “I say no! I earned this wheelchair. It’s no different from a medal I wear on my chest. Why would I hide it?” Yas, queen!
Speaking of badasses, Martha McSally can rightly call herself one as well. The Arizona senator served as a full Colonel in the United States Air Force for 26 years, during which time she was the first American woman ever to fly a fighter jet in combat. She was also the first woman to be in command of a fighter squadron, and she was awarded six air medals and a Bronze Star for her service. Those are some seriously impressive military honors, for sure.
McSally has been candid about her experience as a woman in the military, and she’s spoken about trailblazing her way to the cockpit. “So I find out when I get to the Academy that it’s against the law for women to be fighter pilots, and I’m like, What? I’m going through the same training as you,'” she recalled in an interview with Elle magazine. “I’m kicking a lot of these guys’ a**es, and somehow, just because I have ovaries, I can’t be a fighter pilot? That doesn’t even make sense to me.” She is definitely the heroine we need right now!
Jeanne Shaheen has a whole list of firsts to her name. She was the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire, and the first woman to be both a governor of and a senator for a state, period, in the entire country. She’s also a member of the Senate Committees on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Appropriations. Clearly she knows her stuff!
Like most female politicians, Shaheen has been acutely aware of how hard it is to maintain work-life balance throughout her entire career — something that has given her anxiety along the way. “The doubts I had had more to do with work/life balance — campaigns are all-consuming, and when my husband and I first started working for Jimmy Carter in 1975, we had a young daughter of a year and a half,” she confessed in an interview with Refinery29. “It’s a constant struggle and it’s what most working women go through.” So you’re totally not alone, fam. All too many women know the struggle.
When it comes to campaign ads, combat veteran and Lieutenant Colonel Joni Ernst certainly made a splash with her 2014 television commercial. In it, she parlayed her experience castrating pigs on a farm into a humorous but effective bid for Iowa senate. She was successfully elected in 2014, and has served as senator ever since. That just goes to show the power of advertising, huh?
In 2019, Ernst became a reluctant member of the #MeToo movement when she shared not only that she had been raped in college, but also that her ex-husband had been abusive. “I was the smart one, who earned the 4.0, the sweet girl that takes care of everybody,” she revealed in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I didn’t want to share it with anybody, and in the era of hashtag-MeToo survivors, I always believed that every person is different and they will confront their demons when they’re ready,” she shared. Those are some seriously brave words from a seriously brave woman.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Floridian through and through, the New York City-born Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a congresswoman for the state of Florida since 2005. Having served previously in the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives, Wasserman Schultz is the first Jewish woman from Florida to be elected to the U.S. Congress, and the first-ever woman to Chair the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. Those are quite the accomplishments.
As she has gotten older, Wasserman Schultz has increasingly looked to her faith to be a guiding principle in her life. “I was raised in a secular Jewish household, but my parents always instilled in us Jewish values and pride — particularly around my very Jewish family dinner table,” she shared in an interview with Jewish Women International. “Today I’m more religious and observant than I was as a child; I belong to a synagogue and my older two children have been bar and bat mitzvahed.”
Wasserman Schultz is also a breast cancer survivor and an advocate for breast cancer detection and awareness.
Politician Ilhan Omar made history several times over when she was elected to represent the fifth district of Minnesota in the 2018 midterm elections. She is the first African-born American, the first Somali-American, and one of the first two Muslim American women to hold a seat in the United States Congress, according to the BBC. She also wears a hijab, a scarf that covers her hair in accordance with her religious teachings, and is the first woman in Congress to do so, according to The New York Times.
Omar opened up about her decision to wear the hijab in an interview with Vogue Arabia. “To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance,” she explained. “I grew up in a religious society and my father and grandfather believed that their role was to teach right from wrong. For me, that is how I raise my kids. I work to remove obstacles so they can live at their best and happiest selves.” We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her to see what she does next!
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