Vice President, She's Speaking, and I'm Listening
By: Julia Kahn
Famous personalities in the media industry achieve notoriety from an assortment of talents. Whether individuals gain fame from performing in films and television shows or their musical abilities, all celebrities in the public eye continue to be scrutinized by one thing: looks. More often than not, exciting celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Lily Collins, and Taylor Swift make headlines, not for their accomplishments, but their appearances. This, in turn, leaves young adolescents and even adults with impractical beauty expectations. As social media becomes more widespread, teenagers (especially women) desire to bear resemblance to influencers that have attributes such as slenderness, slim facial features and figures, and long straight hair. Clothing size, lips, and busts are also criticized. However, beauty standards are beginning to change as young women are impacted by an unparalleled political icon, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. The newly inaugurated VP is creating a more inclusive environment by acting as a nontraditional beauty role model for women worldwide. Through her unprecedented outreach on social media and presence in entertainment media, Kamala Harris is an unconventional figure capable of expanding and changing traditional beauty standards.
Never before has a Vice President had such an impact on the people of the United States. Kamala Harris leads by example as she is the first female Vice President and the first African American and South Asian American to hold this office. The Madam Vice President has caught the attention of an audience beyond adults who follow and engage in politics, finding a way to connect with young individuals who are considered Gen Z. Harris uses social media as a venue to interact with a new and different demographic. Users’ illustrations, influential tweets, and trending memes are a few of the many ways she is so celebrated and recognized by youth. Pages such as Cosmopolitan, which is recognized as “The largest young women’s media brand in the world,” are a voice in advocating for the VP. This outreach to predominantly female readers is beginning to shy away from posts about people with similar looks and lifestyles to Bella Hadid and highlight unfamiliar and diverse beauty icons like Kamala Harris. As a result, the Vice President is not just known as a political icon, but becoming a beauty icon too
Beauty standards partially derive from those seen appearing on television networks and magazine covers. People are drawn to what is publicized and wish to emulate what they are viewing. In the past, photos of models such as Cindy Crawford were repeatedly placed on front pages of magazines and cast in commercials which were broadcasted several times a day. Prestigious magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar frequently displayed fashion models and actresses who were recognized for their beauty. Nonetheless, one of these well-respected publications featured Madam Vice President Harris. Breaking barriers as a political and beauty icon, she was recently featured on Vogue’s cover of the February issue U.S. edition. This public display is an honor that allows Harris to be seen in a different light than if she were on the cover of Time or the front page of the New York Times. Her unique beauty was highlighted to women who imitate the style of figures seen in Vogue in the past.
Kamala Harris has broken the male line of succession in politics and with it, helped redefine beauty for young women. Though she continues to pave the way for women, other political figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Obama have also done so in the past. Both the former first lady and AOC have been featured on renowned magazine covers such as Vanity Fair. To this day, they also act as role models to young girls and embrace messages the VP brings forth. Harris does not shy away from her diverse background and shows young girls to embrace their differences. Thereby, Madam Vice President is a beauty icon the world never knew they needed.