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 …

Well-Off Millennials Are All Julia Salazar. I Wish We Weren't.

By Eve Fairbanks, BuzzFeed, September 14, 2018

When I applied to college in 2001, my mother suggested we look into my father’s Native American heritage — a vague family tale — to see if I could register for a tribe to gain an advantage. I didn’t. The family legend was so distant the very idea felt embarrassing. But, in my early twenties, I did let the people around me know that I went to a public high school, that I came from a middle-class family, that my mother dropped out of school, and that I helped pay for my college education. My “public school,” though, was a Magnet consistently ranked among the top 10 public schools in the country. My father was a college professor who made double the US median income. My mother finished her BA in night school. And by “helped,” I meant I made $200 a week to defray my parents’ expenses for my meals.

Maybe this is part of why Julia Salazar’s much-reported embellishments of her own background didn’t torpedo her campaign for State Senate in Brooklyn. Read more …

Trust Me, Mr. President, White South Africans Are Doing Fine

By Eve Fairbanks, Politico, August 29, 2018

I live in South Africa, and days after President Donald Trump’s tweet last week about the dangers, including “large-scale killing,” faced by white South Africans, I got an email from a friend back home in America. It was a forward written by someone else, and it began: “Here's a bit of unfortunate news that has serious implications for world order.” The writer alleged that all South Africans knew that when Mandela died—he passed away in 2013—“the nation will fall apart,” and “now that appears to be happening.” The writer spoke of 400,000 whites “living in tent camps” because “jobs are largely given to blacks”; of secret black “hit squads” invading white farms; and of “whites preparing for war with huge vans which contain trays of vegetable gardens illuminated by ‘growlights.’” “International news organizations,” he said—liberal ones—“didn't want to report” these truths because they would “ruin the ‘miracle’ of independence.”

My friend was concerned. He urgently wanted to speak to me. Not only, I got the sense, out of concern for me—a white person living in this purported media black hole—but because the secrets the writer laid out in the message seemed somehow, for him, critical to know, some kind of essential learning for a critical thinker, for an adult, like the truth that Santa Claus isn’t real.

I didn’t know what to say because it was all so far from the truth that it beggared belief. Some lies are so fantastical they cannot be countered without vaguely soiling the arguer. They make her say or do ridiculous things, like snapping cellphone photos of her breakfast (a faintly embarrassing spread of espresso, a brownie, Nutella and a pecan tartlet) to demonstrate that white people in South Africa are not, in fact, being subjected to forcible “genocidal famine,” or to post a question on the Facebook page for her new Johannesburg neighborhood inquiring straightforwardly whether the white folk there were now “preparing for war” with mobile vegetable gardens. I did that, and it made my neighbors laugh at me. Read more …