Elizabeth Holmes Defrauded Investors. Why Are We Obsessed With Her Appearance?

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By Eve Fairbanks, The Washington Post, March 26, 2019

These two things can be true at the same time: that Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the failed medical-testing company Theranos and dark protagonist of the new HBO documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” probably lied to investors and the public, seems like a terrible person and deserves a long prison sentence. And that the coverage of her — which commanded, in recent days, pieces and segments in the New Yorker, most of the major newspapers , Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, CNN, ABC’s “Nightline,” “The View” and dozens of other outlets — has been unbelievably, jaw-droppingly sexist.

I’m not a person who writes often about sexism or even sees it much. But I can’t get over the emphasis on Holmes’s body language and appearance. “It’s hard to say which physical attributes of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes stand out most: her turtlenecks; her ginormous, unblinking eyes; her perma-red lips,” Vanity Fair wrote. Vox said that Holmes has “questionable personal style.” Yahoo quoted an image consultant who proposed that “it’s almost like she’s trying to assert her dominance through this intense, alpha makeup.”

There is a tension between what many of us say we want (truly equal treatment of women in the media, the workplace and public life) and what we seem almost irresistibly attracted to (lurid deconstructions of a public woman’s looks — and, by extension, her psychological pathologies). Read more …