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On the Run

Mayor Annise Parker (1997)

Parker has shared this poem with a number of women candidates over the years.

You give up: anonymity, autonomy, privacy.

To gain: authority, celebrity, a legacy?

Perfect strangers share imperfect thoughts…

“So, you’re running for office?
Well, just be yourself
But…
You’re too reserved, you need to loosen up!
Don’t quip or speak irreverently – you’ll offend someone.
Smile – you’d seem more approachable.
Don’t smile so much, people won’t think you’re serious.
Don’t cross your arms.
Don’t speak with your hands.
Don’t stand so stiffly.
Your handshake’s much too firm.
A firm handshake signals confidence.
You stand too far away from folks.
You need to respect personal space.
You’re too scripted.
You should be more spontaneous!
Think before you speak.
You should cut your hair.
Your hair’s too short.
You’re going gray – thought about a little color?
Highlights!
That suit’s too dark, not feminine enough.
Stick with power suits.
Stick to pants.
No pants.
You wear your skirts too long.
Your skirt’s too short.
Heels would make you taller.
A nun could wear those shoes.
A little makeup’s all you need.
You should do your nails.
I hope your speech isn’t too boring.
Oh, no. I’m not political at all.
…What was your name again?”