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Focus on the appearance of female politicians only highlights again the professional difficulties they face, says MEP Nessa Childers

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Thursday 13 Feb 2014

Nessa Childers on campaign video shoot

When it comes to their appearance, women in politics just can’t win, Nessa Childers MEP said today.

The independent politician was speaking after it was reported that some of her former Labour party colleagues suggested her election posters had been airbrushed – a suggestion that has been strongly rebuked by the Dublin candidate.
‘I can only assume that the Labour party has now realised that it can’t criticise my policies or political record – and so has instead opted for Plan B: criticising my appearance.  ‘And really, that is just woeful!

‘Homelessness, austerity, healthcare, education – you’d think the Labour party has its pick of alternative, more pressing matters to concentrate on.’
Ms Childers, who is a psychotherapist by profession, has long been vocal against the widespread of use airbrushing in magazines and advertising campaigns.
Last year, she successfully hosted a seminar on the issue in conjunction with the eating disorders charity, Bodywhys.
‘On another note,’ Ms Childers added, ‘I do think this once again highlights the many difficulties that women in politics face.
‘Mick Wallace can turn up to the Dail in a sports jersey, but his female counterparts have every aspect of their appearance scrutinised. Hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, weight; it is all evaluated and commented on.
‘And apart from this potentially having a massively negative impact on self-esteem, it distracts from the real work that these representatives were elected to do.’
Ms Childers has confirmed today that the studio and photographer involved in her campaign images were strictly instructed in advance to avoid using enhancing techniques on her posters.
‘They are now somewhat amused that there is any suggestion to the contrary,’ the Dubliner continued. ‘They say it’s a good indication of their photographic skill that the image is being questioned by a few disgruntled folk!’
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