Ali Brown: Staying Authentic

Ali Brown: Staying Authentic

My name is Ali Brown and I am the Democratic nominee for Indianapolis City-County Council District 5. I am a mom, a small business owner, a nonprofit executive, and a community activist. I haven’t always been comfortable in my skin, but at 34, I have become pretty happy with my body. I am a 6’3 former colligate shot-putter and weightlifter. I am 6 inches taller than my husband, and 9 inches taller than the average woman. I love being tall. I have been tall my entire life. I embrace it. My campaign slogan is Standing Tall for Indy. However, dressing my frame as a candidate has been a challenge.

Society dictates what clothing is socially acceptable for women candidates to wear. That’s often why you’ll see female candidates in similar outfits; some kind of nice pants or skirt suit with heels. I think that look is professional and classic. However, when you are candidate who is built differently, looks different, or doesn’t fit into the box that elected women are put into, being seen as a candidate is tough.

My go to look is a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I can dress it up with dress pants and a blazer, maybe some ballet flats, but I always make sure the look can handle all my mom and campaign duties. I am trying to run as authentically as possible making sure everyone gets to meet a real person, not some over-polished facsimile.

I have been going door to door in a campaign shirt, jeans, and sneakers, which has been working really well for me. It’s been a chilly spring in Indiana so sometimes I add a hoodie or jacket. It is getting warmer though. So, what do I wear as it gets hot? Full disclaimer, I am a sweater. When I work out for 5 minutes it looks like I’ve been on the stair climber for an hour. Above 80 degrees my face flushes and I look like I’ve run a marathon. Keeping makeup on my face, to hide my well-earned mom-of-a-toddler under eye darkness, is not an option. Eyeliner and mascara will quickly melt away.

At a loss on what to do, I reached out in a Facebook group of female candidates to see how they dealt with the weather. I simply asked if anyone had any makeup tips and if it would be ok to wear shorts. And, oh boy, did I get some answers. Multiple women told me to never wear shorts, instead I should canvass in tennis skirts or capris, neither of which I own and are not my style. Many told me to stick to pants all summer. I was also surprised to learn that many of the candidates canvas in a full suit year round. I was also told to use theater makeup that doesn’t melt under stage lighting and about how I can seal my face with spray antiperspirant so my face stops sweating.

After reading all of these comments I was distressed and worried about how I was physically going to handle looking like an acceptable female candidate. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to the community for taking time to give me advice that I had asked for, but I was surprised how many women described the uncomfortable lengths they go through to look culturally acceptable. The advice they had given me was advice they had received based on an image they were told to project. I had to make a decision on how I was going to present myself to the world, am I going to dress how I am expected to or dress to my comfort level?

I have decided on the latter. I will continue to work hard and meet people’s expectations, but on my terms. When attending formal meetings or events, I have dresses or suits that I can and do breakout. But when I am going door to door, or attending community events, I am going to be a slightly polished version of myself.  I truly believe in meeting people where they are and connecting with them on their level. I think as a person running for office, I should be as authentic and true as I can. I am sticking with my t-shirts and jeans, and when I am out knocking this summer, I have invested in Bermuda shorts that will allow me to keep a little cooler.

I may not look like a typical politician, but I’m not your typical politician so that’s ok. And as a mom, I want to show my son to be true to who he is. I am going to be authentically Ali and a lot cooler.

Ali Brown is running for My name is Ali Brown and I am the Democratic nominee for Indianapolis City-County Council District 5. I am a mom, a small business owner, a nonprofit executive, and a community activist. I haven’t always been comfortable in my skin, but at 34, I have become pretty happy with my body. I am a 6’3 former colligate shot-putter and weightlifter. I am 6 inches taller than my husband, and 9 inches taller than the average woman. I love being tall. I have been tall my entire life. I embrace it. My campaign slogan is Standing Tall for Indy. However, dressing my frame as a candidate has been a challenge.

Society dictates what clothing is socially acceptable for women candidates to wear. That’s often why you’ll see female candidates in similar outfits; some kind of nice pants or skirt suit with heels. I think that look is professional and classic. However, when you are candidate who is built differently, looks different, or doesn’t fit into the box that elected women are put into, being seen as a candidate is tough.

My go to look is a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I can dress it up with dress pants and a blazer, maybe some ballet flats, but I always make sure the look can handle all my mom and campaign duties. I am trying to run as authentically as possible making sure everyone gets to meet a real person, not some over-polished facsimile.

I have been going door to door in a campaign shirt, jeans, and sneakers, which has been working really well for me. It’s been a chilly spring in Indiana so sometimes I add a hoodie or jacket. It is getting warmer though. So, what do I wear as it gets hot? Full disclaimer, I am a sweater. When I work out for 5 minutes it looks like I’ve been on the stair climber for an hour. Above 80 degrees my face flushes and I look like I’ve run a marathon. Keeping makeup on my face, to hide my well-earned mom-of-a-toddler under eye darkness, is not an option. Eyeliner and mascara will quickly melt away.

At a loss on what to do, I reached out in a Facebook group of female candidates to see how they dealt with the weather. I simply asked if anyone had any makeup tips and if it would be ok to wear shorts. And, oh boy, did I get some answers. Multiple women told me to never wear shorts, instead I should canvass in tennis skirts or capris, neither of which I own and are not my style. Many told me to stick to pants all summer. I was also surprised to learn that many of the candidates canvas in a full suit year round. I was also told to use theater makeup that doesn’t melt under stage lighting and about how I can seal my face with spray antiperspirant so my face stops sweating.

After reading all of these comments I was distressed and worried about how I was physically going to handle looking like an acceptable female candidate. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to the community for taking time to give me advice that I had asked for, but I was surprised how many women described the uncomfortable lengths they go through to look culturally acceptable. The advice they had given me was advice they had received based on an image they were told to project. I had to make a decision on how I was going to present myself to the world, am I going to dress how I am expected to or dress to my comfort level?

I have decided on the later. I will continue to work hard and meet people’s expectations, but on my terms. When attending formal meetings or events, I have dresses or suits that I can and do breakout. But when I am going door to door, or attending community events, I am going to be a slightly polished version of myself.  I truly believe in meeting people where they are and connecting with them on their level. I think as a person running for office, I should be as authentic and true as I can. I am sticking with my t-shirts and jeans, and when I am out knocking this summer, I have invested in Bermuda shorts that will allow me to keep a little cooler.

I may not look like a typical politician, but I’m not your typical politician so that’s ok. And as a mom, I want to show my son to be true to who he is. I am going to be authentically Ali and a lot cooler.

Ali Indy is currently running for Indianapolis City-Council Council. To donate to Ali’s campaign, head here

About author

You might also like

Politics 0 Comments

Horning into GOP race for US Senate

Freedom, IN – Americans want options. We have unlimited choices in coffee, shoes, electronics, cell service…everything, in fact, excepting whatever politicians control. It’s literally a shame that only two political

Politics 0 Comments

Just Let Me Teach 9-14-16 Podcast

The great conversation that is public education continues as Justin welcomes Penny Githens, Kim Fidler, Bill Breeden and Gary Snyder.

Politics 0 Comments

Indiana Democratic Party 3-4-17 Weekly Radio Address

Chairman John Zody and the Indiana Democratic Party 3-4-17 weekly radio address: “Pot, meet kettle. Vice President Mike Pence got caught in an unethical and reckless email scandal of his