Even if you aren’t a regular viewer of Fox News, you probably have a pretty firm image ingrained your mind of what the network’s female anchors tend to look like: thin, blonde, coiffed, and outfitted in a brightly-colored, decidedly “feminine” ensemble. A quick Google search alone turns up reams of “Hottest Anchor” roundups and more than one video montage dedicated to footage of their toned gams. But it’s not merely that Fox skews towards younger, prettier hires — the makeup looks they’re sporting are generally of the sort you see painted on Miss America.
The aptly-titled article “Foxy Ladies” by Laura Mundy in the September issue of the Atlantic investigates the phenomenon of the Fox Face, talking to makeup artists, former on-air guests, and Gabriel Sherman, a journalist who is working on a biography of network Chairman Roger Ailes.
Here’s what she found to be the root causes of the überglam aesthetic:
- Roger Ailes himself. Sherman points to the “creation myth” of Fox News as the point of origin for the makeup-happy management, who one regular guest claims comment more on “her hair, clothes, and makeup than about what she says.” (Reassuring, eh?)
- Conservative ladies know sex sells. And don’t mind using it to their advantage. Mundy calls this “the gleeful Laura Ingraham/Ann Coulter school of beautyology, which holds that the angrier and better-coiffed you are, the more attention you will receive.”
- The older man/younger woman dynamic. Cable TV’s male baby boomer demo gets to see their fantasies projected on screen while looking at what an interviewed makeup artist calls the “large-print edition of women” (read: bigger, brighter, shinier). And its just like the movies!
- Women like looking at pretty women, too.
When Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy, in 1960, many said that his fate had been sealed by bad makeup during a televised debate. Before an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show seven years later, Nixon groused about having to stoop so low as to go on television; Ailes, the executive producer for the show, persuaded him to embrace the medium, and the makeup. Nixon hired him to work on his next presidential campaign, and won.
That kind of kinetic energy between the sexes is one of the reasons Fox is successful. Oftentimes the older male hosts—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity—in the prime time, at night, are paired with women, debating politics, and the women are generally much younger … It almost goes back to 1940s Hollywood.”
The aforementioned makeup artist, for instance, is “entranced” by Megyn Kelly‘s holographic lipgloss.
So, in summary: we’re all shallow magpies. Also, it’s pretty much all Nixon’s fault.