Bare & Brave, Hillary Clinton Faces Her Pain
Image source NBC.com
Last week, Hillary Clinton took the podium – on yet another stage, in yet another pantsuit – as she made her first public appearance since her post-election concession speech. The former presidential candidate addressed a crowd at the Children’s Defense Fund charity gala in Washington, D.C. – the city she was most likely expecting to be a resident of come January 2017. Ever the eloquent presence with a gift of the spoken word, she inevitably captivated my attention with her poignant yet steady message of hope and perseverance.
Her impressive and effective discourse aside, I couldn’t help but be extremely caught off-guard by how shattered and awful she looked. And let me be clear, my analysis of Hillary’s appearance isn’t meant to be superficial or vain in tenor, but rather meant to echo my feelings of admiration. Hillary resembled the hell that she’s been going through since her devastating and stunning defeat.
Gone was the impeccably tailored, couture attire; there wasn’t a trace of her signature Princess Diana-esque coiffure; her dark circles were clearly visible, as were bloodshot eyes. The woman looked broken, as though she’d spent the entire two weeks prior crying in a heap – and she basically admitted as much. She disclosed to the audience that it was difficult to work up the courage to attend the event, and that most days she just wants to stay at home curled up with her dogs, a good book and never leave.
Hillary not only looked exhausted and embattled, she had the unmistakable look of someone who was no longer in denial, someone who had realized the truth and was desperately trying to accept it. When she addressed supporters, her staff and millions of television viewers to surrender her highest hopes of being President, she looked crushed, but as if things still hadn’t hit her. And shock does that to us – it protects our bodies and our brains, giving us time and a buffer with which to process whatever it is that’s making us numb in the first place.
At the event last week, there was no mistaking it – the weight and calamity of everything had finally hit Hillary Clinton and no amount of Chanel makeup could conceal that. She had lost the war, so why continue to bother with the paint?
The former first lady looked… so familiar…. so relatable. She was the heartbroken man whose fiancé had just called off the wedding. She was the weary, anxiety-ridden relative who paces the hallways of a hospital waiting for word that a loved one is safely out of surgery. She was the passionate, crushed sports fan whose team just lost the championship game after a decades-long playoff drought. Last Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton’s face was anything and everything. It was all of us and something we’ve all been at some point or another in our lives when we need to step back, breathe and pick up the pieces.
Social media has been riddled with the expected vitriol and snark in response to Hillary’s appearance. The skeptics, critics and conspiracy theorists will accuse of her looking unkempt on purpose to achieve that ‘pity me’ reaction. I even saw a fair share of “she’s on drugs!” and “this is what a bender looks like” comments. But I was inspired, and I give her immense credit – for being vulnerable, for being real, for conveying “I’m not ok right now, and it’s ok to not be ok.” Hillary faced everything last week, and she did it without meticulous, power-styled glamour, façade or something for which she is so often attacked – dishonesty and deception.
Thank you, HRC, for reminding the world that there is unveiled, untouched beauty in the breakdown. So many of us (and you, especially) needed that moment of humanity.
Posted by Ilana.