The Croatian president is an attractive woman, but why should that be the focus?

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic smiles during Russian-Croatian talks at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Getty Images
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic smiles during Russian-Croatian talks at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Getty Images

More women are appearing in positions of authority and power than what seemed to be the case several years ago and it's inspiring to see. Until the conversation about their power starts focusing on their aesthetic appeal.

I was watching the final World Cup match between France and Croatia at a bar when the man next to me pointed at a blonde woman wearing the Croatian jersey and said "That's Croatia's president - she looks so hot in a bikini".

Although it has been clarified that the women people saw in the bikini was not the president, the excitement around the pictures and the idea of a president in a swimming costume are enough to make you wonder whether a woman's popularity and influence in the professional world are skewed by how attractive and youthful she is.

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President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has been acknowledged for being a great leader and supporter of her country's soccer team ever since the airing of the final game of the 2018 World Cup, and this is amazing. On the other hand, according to the article in Total Croatia News, the president has been searched on the internet more times than people search for where Croatia actually is and what people search for the most is 'Croatian president bikini'.

We don't need studies to tell us that we are naturally drawn to young and attractive people. But is it necessarily the only thing that we can focus on when a woman is in a position of power and authority? Often, when a prominent woman makes the headlines, it is because of her physical and aesthetic appeal first before it is about what she is capable of. In the Total Croatia News article, Paul Bradbury reports that the president "is considered by many to be a better-looking president than many of her grey-suited counterparts".

In her stand-up show at the Apollo, comedian Michelle Wolf jokes that, unlike with their male counterparts, women in politics are required to pay attention to how they look and what they wear. If society pays more attention to how a woman looks before they talk about what she does, then it makes sense why British prime minister, Theresa May and German politician Angela Merkel are not as popular with the millennials as President Kolinda is.

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If a woman in a prominent position's power and influence are based on pretty she is, then we still have quite a long way to go. It's encouraging to see when people acknowledge the president's inspirational leadership, her sense of equality and authenticity.

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