Jonathan Van Ness on Bernie Sanders: If Female Politicians Looked That Way They'd Never Get Anywhere

jonathan van ness queer eye netflix
credit: Kathy Hutchins/

Jonathan Van Ness just gets it.

The Queer Eye star and HIV/AIDs activist recently made history as Cosmo U.K‘s first non-binary cover star and used the opportunity to get real about the double standards in politics.

While speaking about the 2020 democratic candidates, Jonathan discussed Bernie Sanders and his untamed appearance. He said,

“My whole thing with Bernie was: I love his policies and his advocacy, but if a woman presented herself the way he does, she would never become a mayor, a congressperson or a senator. If a female politician was walking around that disheveled, she would never have got a foot in the door.”

He added,

“No matter how much I agree with Bernie, I am just much more comfortable with a smart, strong female leader.”

Jonathan’s comments on Bernie Sanders are actually a follow-up to a brief moment in Queer Eye in which he joked that the politician needed some gel in his hair. The one-minute video clip made the rounds online and led to a huge backlash among Bernie’s more… passionate (read: aggressive) followers.

But JVN isn’t wrong. There’s always been a double standard for female politicians, who are expected to appear immaculate. Hillary Clinton even wore so many many pantsuits that they got their own Instagram account.

Of course, this standard doesn’t just apply to politicians, but women across all career fields.

And one need look no further than the photo of Beyonce standing next to Ed Sheeran that went viral in 2018, in which Beyonce looks like a stunning queen and Ed looks like he just rolled out of bed.

Not to mention that tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg walk around in hoodies while women in Silicon Valley like Marissa Mayar wear designer dresses.

The truth is that men, mostly heterosexual white men, can wear what they like and still be taken seriously. Women, on the other hand, can barely get away with wearing an outfit twice.

Bernie fans might have been scorned by Jonathan’s joke, but they can’t deny the double standard. Would they look at Bernie the same way if he were a woman who put so little effort into her appearance? No one can say for sure, but I think we all know the answer.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.