Mary Portas, the British television presenter and retail advisor, has apologized for saying that the four women in Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet are an “ugly bunch” who need to be glammed up and dress better.
Portas explained to the Daily Telegraph newspaper that her inflammatory comments to Heat magazine weren't designed to insult the women and was simply a manifestation of her naughty sense of humor. She then admitted she couldn't even identify the women in Cameron’s cabinet.
Everything I've been trying to do is to make women of that age group visible and able to wear clothes that reflect where they've come from in life and what they've achieved, she told the Telegraph.
I'm very candid, straightforward and I've got a very naughty sense of humor. But I do not want to be one of those women who are bashing - that's just not my take. What I genuinely feel is that they [female politicians] work in a deeply established male place, and I do think a lot of women find it very difficult to know how to come across as professional - and equal in some ways - because it's a phenomenally difficult job.”
Portas added:When it comes down to it, with women and their intellect, furthering their careers is much more sexy than how they dress.
The four principal women in Cameron’s cabinet are Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party and Minister without Portfolio; Theresa May, the Home Secretary; Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Cheryl Gillan, Secretary of State for Wales.
Baroness Warsi condemned Portas’ comments in an editorial in the Sun newspaper.
In politics you expect people to scrutinize every aspect of your life,” she wrote.
“And I don't blame Ms Portas for chipping in. But what gets me is the double standards. You would never get the same kind of sniping about men in politics. No-one would have dreamt of giving fashion advice to any of the great men who led our country. Just imagine if someone had told Churchill what suits to wear. It's ridiculous to judge them [female politicians] on what they do or don't wear.
A spokesman for Portas told BBC that she sent the letters to the four women on Wednesday to explain and apologize.
However, during her interview with Heat, Portas had declared: If I were PM, I'd restyle all those women, I mean, the female cabinet, what an ugly bunch, she said. Do you know, I could not look at them. I go in for meetings now and they do dress up for my meetings, but I just want to go, 'Please no, not that necklace, not that skirt'.
She also noted that British women look and dress worse than their French counterparts.