Life

Bad opinion of the day: the Dalai Lama thinks that any female successor must ‘be attractive’

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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He even suggested a make-up budget.

What makes a good leader? Studies seem to suggest that integrity, the ability to inspire and a creative attitude to problem solving all rank highly among the traits that characterise the most successful leaders. 

One attribute that doesn’t seem to have any bearing on any competence to lead is how attractive a person is. Yet being good-looking is apparently vital for any woman who aspires to a leadership role – or at least, that’s what the Dalai Lama has opined. 

“If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive,” said the current Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and commands significant respect around the globe.

His comments came during an interview with the BBC, after foreign correspondent Rajini Vaidyanatha quizzed him on remarks he’d made in 2015, to similar effect. 

“People would prefer not to see that face,” the Dalai Lama – the 14th man to hold the position - continued, screwing up his features to indicate what he meant.

“I think there’s an opportunity to ask whether [a female successor] can spend some money on makeup,” he replied.

“A lot of people would say that’s objectifying women,” responded Vaidyanatha.

“It’s about who you are inside, isn’t it?”

On this the Dalai Lama agreed, saying that real beauty was “inner.”

“But we’re human beings… I think appearance is also important,” he finished. 

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Disappointing but not surprising – like many other faiths, Buddhism has a history of exclusion and discrimination when it comes to women. Although often received as a progressive ideology, historically efforts have been made to prevent women being ordained as monks and sexism has been extensively documented.

And yet it’s still utterly draining to hear opinions like this from the world’s leaders. It seems that enlightenment is a way off just yet.

Images: Getty

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Moya Lothian-McLean

Moya Lothian-McLean is a freelance writer with an excessive amount of opinions. She tweets @moya_lm.

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