What the US foreign service needs is a Wintour de France
Terrifically toned biceps are the must-have accessory of the modern and powerful. On the right kind of woman they pervade an intangible attitude that vacillates between “don’t mess with me”, “I get things done” and also, if we’re honest, “I can basically rock any kind of sleeveless evening dress you throw at me”.
Right in the centre of this pool of the female and genetically blessed comes Anna Wintour, the editor and chief of American Vogue whose terrifying editorial direction was immortalised in the 2007 documentary, The September Issue and the fictional take, The Devil Wears Prada.
Most recently Wintour has become the controversial nominee on President Obama’s shortlist for US Ambassador to France or the UK when the New Year rolls around.
Scandalous - some have said. But I reckon it’s a spectacular suggestion, although I can’t help attributing this one to Michelle Obama. Or maybe that’s just the arms.
Wintour is fabulous, from her icy stare, coiffed hair and effortlessly tailored clothes, right down to her front row seat at every worthwhile fashion event. And her appointment to ambassador is not such a fanciful notion, according to Dr Geoff Robinson, a Professor in history and politics at Deakin University.
Wintour is said to have recently raised approximately $US40 million for the Obama re-election campaign. Not many people raise that sort of money, and it can put you in line for a cushy overseas post. For example, did you know that Hollywood child star Shirley Temple was ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1982?
Not everyone is convinced of Wintour’s suitability for the job. Professor Robinson said there will be plenty of Republicans up in arms over the “infusion of her celebrity”. But just how different can the life of a French ambassador be compared to the celebrity word? Fabulous parties: check. Air kisses. Check. Ability to talk ones way out of any conversation: double check. And fashion: “bien sûr”.
Wintour is also no wallflower. Her CV boasts a 25 year history of magazine take over and domination - hardly a job for ignorant wimps. And that experience will prove a real bonus to the diplomatic role, according to Dr Robinson. As ambassador, Wintour will be expected to echo the voice of the United States on a range of political and economic issues.
Above all, Wintour’s appointment would be a bold and confident statement about diplomacy and female recruitment generally. And whoever takes credit for the suggestion should be congratulated. It’s the kind of out of the box thinking that should be used in recruitment strategies everywhere.
Especially given the current woeful representation of women in boards, and other top jobs. Most recent figures show: 14.2 per cent of women in Australia’s top 200 companies; 12.5 per cent in the UK and 15.7 per cent in the USA.
I can’t also help but think that Wintour would bring a much needed sparkle to the job at hand - she’s anything but lacking in glamour.
Paris won’t know what hit it.
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