Alejandra "Ali" Campoverdi is running for congress in California's 34th district. She's a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a former White House staffer. Ali also modeled for Maxim in 2004. Some can't reconcile her obvious qualifications for public office with the fact she posed for our cameras.
Ali thinks that's bullshit and we agree.
Writing in Cosmopolitan, Ali addressed this issue, which first came up shortly after she joined the White House staff in 2009. Just a week into her job, her Maxim photos were grabbed by gossip sites and she was slammed. Snarky bloggers clearly thought this "White House Maxim Model" didn't deserve her new and respectable position. She had, she writes, "been reduced to a stereotype." But that didn't stop her:
After crying for a week, I put my head down and worked even harder. The only thing that ever got me anywhere was working hard, showing up when I said I would or earlier, and doing more than just the job I was hired to do. And that’s what I did for my next four years at the White House.
Now, eight years later, as I run for Congress, I understand a lot more about the systemic sexism in politics than the young woman who beat herself up and took all the shaming so personally. Yet when I recently found myself forced to answer questions about Maxim by a reputable newspaper in my official announcement for Congress, I knew I had to speak out about this double standard. Enough already.
Ali then states a hard truth—that women should not be expected to "choose between being intelligent and being feminine."
"Female sexuality and intelligence," she writes, "are not inversely related."
Ali goes on to say she's proud of "the mosaic of experiences" that made her who she is today. Later in her essay she makes note of the fact that from now on, women "will have grown up in the digital age where, unless she sat in a turtleneck at home for all her teens, she will have pictures readily available online that can be used to shame her."
If women let that fact intimidate them into never speaking out, according to Ali, society will be missing out "on talented, transformational women leaders in every public-facing field."
Ali Campoverdi faces off against 22 other candidates in her district's April 4th primary election. That's a lot of competition, but we know who we're pulling for.
Many women have posed for Maxim's cameras, and we're sure she won't be the first to go on and make a big difference in the world.