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A B.C. Mayor Wore The Same Suit For 15 Months To Highlight Sexist Double Standards

He wanted to highlight a sexist double standard for female politicians, whose appearance is constantly remarked upon.

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A mayor in British Columbia decided to wear the same suit to official functions for as long as possible in an effort to highlight sexist double standards. He vowed to stop once somebody pointed out his limited wardrobe, but it’s been 15 months and not a single damn person noticed or cared enough to mention it.

Richard Stewart / Twitter

Richard Stewart, who has been mayor of Coquitlam since 2008, says he wore the same dark blue suit to every city council meeting, as well as numerous community events starting in late 2014.

Writing about his social experiment on Facebook, Stewart said he was troubled by how often he has heard comments about female politicians' hair and clothing over the years. Those same pressures never seemed to apply to men like him.

"I actually think it’s a significant issue, as it demonstrates in some ways the fact that there are different standards for men vs. women, that there are hidden barriers to women entering some professions, including elected office," Stewart said. "And if we truly want our democratic institutions to reflect society, we need to open our eyes to those differences."

Stewart got the idea from an Australian morning news anchor who wore the same suit for a year without any trouble. Meanwhile, his female colleagues were constantly subject to commentary about their appearances.

Today / Nine Network

"No one has noticed; no one gives a shit," Karl Stefanovic said afterwards.

Stewart learned that same lesson. During all those months wearing a "plain, off-the-rack, boring, dark blue suit," nobody ever called him out. In fact, he only put an end to his social experiment after a city councillor noted that he was the only one not in a grey suit.

"I suppose I could have continued with it, since nobody had yet noticed that I’d worn the same suit for the past 15 months," he said.

"Of course, I can’t imagine anybody suggesting that a woman could get away with wearing the same outfit for more than a year. But clearly a man could, and did," the mayor said.

Richard Stewart / Facebook

Stewart warned that the difference between how male and female politicians are treated is not trivial, but can represent a real barrier for people who want to run for office.

"There are double standards in so many aspects of our lives, a different standard for men than for women," he said. "Where this different standard presents a barrier, where this limits the advancement of one group over another, where this prevents our democratic institutions from better reflecting society, we need to remove it."

Read Richard Stewart's full Facebook note:

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

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