A mismatched suit

Here are a few numbers that may quickly ring a bell: $48,200; $62,000; $22,800; $150,000. They are: the median household income in the United States in 2006; the worldâÄôs most expensive lipstick âÄî GuerlainâÄôs KissKiss Gold and Diamonds; the money celebrity makeup artist Amy Strozzi earned from the GOP; the price of Sarah PalinâÄôs âÄúto be auctionedâÄù wardrobe since joining John McCainâÄôs campaign. While most of the shopping was done for her, and while her $75,062 bonanza at Neiman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis may have been good for our local economy, any mother might agree that $92 for a quickly soiled baby romper can hardly be called frugal. But for Guerlian makeup and this âÄúhockey mom,âÄù the lipstick is what counts. On Fox News, Gretchen Carlson challenged viewers by saying, âÄúWhen we stop treating women as sexist figures, then we can stop talking about how much money they spent on her clothes âĦ I just feel like an inordinate amount of time is discussed by the color of her shoes and the way she did her hair.âÄù But Carlson makes the same point Tina Fey made while playing Palin on Saturday Night Live back in September. In concurrence to CarlsonâÄôs argument, Palin told the Associated Press on Friday that her family shops frugally, and that the purchased clothes âÄúare not my property.âÄù Even still, for someone who said thanks but no thanks for a bridge to nowhere, and who wasnâÄôt quick to condone a personal jet for herself as governor, the clothing stands in a stark contrast to John McCainâÄôs note that Palin âÄúneeded the clothes.âÄù While agreeing it wouldnâÄôt be difficult to spend $150,000 on spotlight-worthy clothes, âÄúFashion MagazineâÄù editor-in-chief Ceri Marsh told the Associated Press the amount Palin dropped on designer duds runs counter to the image sheâÄôs trying to create. âÄúWhen you look at how sheâÄôs trying to sell herself, thereâÄôs a bit of a disconnect,âÄù explains Marsh. âÄúWhen you are a conservative Republican, who has criticized [her opponents] for reckless spending, when youâÄôre painting yourself as queen of the hockey moms, youâÄôre opening yourself up to attack.âÄù Since Thursday, the numbers have been smeared across the media as Republicans have defended the spending and admonishment has been generated throughout the DNC. But itâÄôs not to say that the Democratic Party doesnâÄôt spend any money at all: Michelle ObamaâÄôs infamous purple dress has been sought after, and the average cost of one of BarackâÄôs suits is $1,500. But while the DNC may pay for stage or photo shoot makeup, the party is not outfitting its candidate and his family. ItâÄôs obvious to say that those in the limelight should present themselves well; no one wears sweatpants to an interview. But the expenditures do contrast the image that Palin advocates; you wonâÄôt find Joe Six Pack at the SakâÄôs sale on Saturday. Especially when an article published by the Associated Press last week quoted the average U.S. household as spending, âÄú$1,874 on clothes and services in 2006, the last year for which figures are available from the governmentâÄôs Bureau of Labor Statistics.âÄù But past the Tina Fey glasses lies an undermining problem: Even in the case that Sarah PalinâÄôs monumentally expensive wardrobe is to be auctioned off for charity after the election, the idea of the auction reinforces the âÄúsexismâÄù Palin and other women in the media are trying to refute. ItâÄôs old hat to note womenâÄôs images in the media are degenerative, though itâÄôs not to say it isnâÄôt a pertinent argument. Perhaps newspapers donâÄôt actually print the color of Sarah PalinâÄôs shoes but the idea that PalinâÄôs clothing might produce a profitable auction is what is most alarming to me. Of course the media will continue to exhaust scrutiny over the GOPâÄôs clothing budget, but it will fail to realize that only a certain size woman will be able to participate in the post-campaign auction the party has proclaimed. Though the idea of an auction is an obvious attempt to redeem $150,000 in Sarah expenses, the pool of capable participants is particularly slender. In other words, only a fit and petite woman like Palin herself would be able to wear the clothes. After all, there is little merit in purchasing a several thousand-dollar suit that doesnâÄôt fit. Thus, the auction would uphold the images of sexism Palin is supposedly trying to fight. Many women may wear the same size clothing, but not all of us can, or want to, fit the mold that she presents. Then there is the additional idea that the clothes themselves are worth as much as they were paid for. Spending thousands of dollars on a suit communicates the ideal that labor, fabric and the individual who designed it maintains some kind of Godly prestige. But can one tube of lipstick be worth six times more than the average familyâÄôs cosmetic spending in a year? If the value of the clothes lies in the fact that Sarah Palin owned them, wouldnâÄôt an auction of midline clothing garner higher funds? We buy glasses according to the shape of our face and personality. Some want them to blend in and others like a bold, black frame. But even though Sarah Palin might look fabulous, she needs to put her glasses on and look at the value of what she promotes rather than its price tag. Kelsey Kudak welcomes comments at [email protected]