This Politician Has Two Choice Words for Reporters Asking About Her Weight
In addition to questions surrounding her political leanings and possible alliances, British Labour MP Liz Kendall also has to field questions around being single, and even her weight.
Kendall is in the running to lead the Labour Party, positioning her for the standard, style-heavy newspaper profile. In the Daily Mail on Sunday, the paper's political editor Simon Walters wrote a flowery piece on Kendall, in which he asked whether she weighs about the same as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton (that's after he went into incredible detail of her clothing and described Kendall as a "slinky brunette"). After posing the question about her weight, Kendall reportedly replied with two words:
She asked him not to print her frustrations, but Walters did anyway. Kendall later appeared on BBC News radio to elaborate on the sexist questions she's fielded on the campaign, including the one captured in Walters' story.
"It's unbelievable that in the 21st century, women still get asked such very, very different questions than men," she says. "Can you imagine the Mail on Sunday asking the weight of the prime minister, [chief financial minister Chancellor] George Osborne or any other leading politician? I cannot wait for a world when women are judged the same as men and not by those kinds of questions."
A stone's throw: Kendall is running to lead the Labour Party as current leader Ed Miliband has stepped down, and is considered the most centrist of the four Labour candidates. Kendall having to field questions about her weight and marital status not only trivializes her candidacy, but could also unfairly jeopardize her campaign. The anti-sexism organization Name It, Change it released a study in 2013, showing that when media coverage on a female candidate focuses on her looks, it can negatively affect her campaign, even if the coverage is positive. So even while Kendall lags behind her opponents, she still deserves a fair shake, and that wasn't it.
July 21, 12:14 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify the title of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He is also the First Secretary of State, but that is an honorific title that does not fully describe his position in the government.