There’s a tax many women have to deal with on a daily basis when it comes to our careers and work.
It’s not technically a compulsory tax but in many cases, it’s viewed as necessary – especially if you’re going for a promotion, aiming to get a new client, or running for election.
It’s not purely a financial tax – although it does chew up a regular chunk of your earnings – it’s more of a tax on your time.
That tax is the amount of time women spend on hair and make-up.
And it’s a tax that’s been a constant curse for Hillary Clinton.
The ‘Hair & Makeup Tax’ initially came up during a live Q&A session Clinton conducted on Facebook way back in 2015, when questioner Libby Brittain complained about the 30 or more minutes she has to spend getting ready in the morning while her “boyfriend zips out the door”.
Brittain asked Clinton how the “hair and makeup tax” affects other women, especially those in high-pressure and public facing roles.
Clinton replied, “Amen sister” to the question noting that, “It’s a daily challenge. I do the best I can – and as you can see some days are better than others.”
That was back in 2015, Clinton had to step things up for the 2016 US Presidential Election.
In her latest book published in September, Clinton writes:
“I once calculated how many hours I spent having my hair and makeup done during the campaign. It came to about 600 hours, or 25 days. I was so shocked, I checked the math twice.
“I’m not jealous of my male colleagues often, but I am when it comes to how they can just shower, shave, put on a suit, and be ready to go. The few times I’ve gone out in public without makeup, it’s made the news. So I sigh, and keep getting back in that chair, and dream of a future in which women in the public eye don’t need to wear makeup if they don’t want to, and no one cares either way.”
(In Clinton’s case she at least has people to help with the hair and makeup, meaning she can use the time to read, go over briefings and even work with staff on discussing strategy. That’s really not the case for most of us, but then most of us don’t have to regularly front up to the cameras.)
Earlier this year, research by financial comparison site Mozo found Australian women are spending $15 billion a year on hair & makeup and other ‘looking good requirements’ – almost double the $8.5 billion that both men and women are spending on fitness.
But that’s just the financial cost. Mozo also finds women will spend around 3276 hours on personal grooming during the course of their life times – or more than 136 days. Men will spend 1092 hours.
Recently, author Zadie Smith told a book festival about the “15 minute rule” that she’s given her seven-year old daughter. As The Guardian reported Smith saying:
“I explained it to her in these terms: you are wasting time, your brother is not going to waste any time doing this. Every day of his life he will put a shirt on, he’s out the door and he doesn’t give a shit if you waste an hour and a half doing your makeup.”
It’s a good rule. But would it be enough for any woman running for public office? Especially when you consider nails, hair, makeup, shoes, and choosing just the right outfit that’ll send just the right message?
And how do blokes get to spend all that extra time?
Well if you’re Donald Trump, it’s on Twitter and on a golf course. Politifact says he’s played 29 times since inauguration, as of 10 October.
Hillary Clinton on 4Corners tonight
Hillary Clinton’s given a one-on-one interview with Australian journalist Sarah Ferguson for tonight’s episode of 4Corners on ABC.
According to some of the snippets Women’s Agenda has heard, Clinton explains why President Donald Trump is not only dangerous for the United States, but also Australia and the world. She says he’s “being played by Kim Jong Un” and “has no real strategy for dealing with the threat of North Korea”. She also says his use of twitter – particularly regarding international relations – is dangerous.
Ferguson told ABC Radio National this morning that while she’s watched Clinton over the years, she wasn’t prepared “for this Hillary” that she met during the interview. The guard Clinton puts up had come down, at least a little. While she’s still protective, the pain of the 2017 elections loss is clear.
“Something about this loss I think has reconfigured her relationship with the world,” Ferguson said. “You can see the pain of that loss.
And while Clinton does accept responsibility for a number of mistakes during the campaign, she signals out Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as being partially to blame, accusing him of colluding with Russian intelligence agencies.
“She doesn’t hold back when it comes to Assange,” Ferguson said. “She thinks Assange is one of the key reasons she lost. She talks about the way Wikileaks was weaponised.”
The interview with Hillary Clinton airs tonight at 8:30 on ABC.