Claire Underwood, Bitch Network Icon
Today The Bitch Network is looking at House of Cards’ character, Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright. Whilst the show originally seemed to be following the trajectory of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood for the first two series, it soon became clear that viewers were as intrigued by Claire’s story. Even the writers seemed to agree, suddenly switching horses mid-way through and giving Claire’s character decidedly more air time. It is Claire’s journey, not Frank’s, that ends up as the main attraction of the show.
Our first impressions of Claire is that she seems pro-social, engaged in charity work, but a supportive and loyal wife who puts her husband’s needs first and foremost. She seems to have agreed to have taken a back seat for her husband’s ambition, but within a few episodes there are subtle signs that she’s not happy as she vents her resentment and not being able to find sponsors and investors for her charity due to Frank’s political alliances.
We soon realise that she’s as ambitious and steely hearted as her husband in many ways. It’s when Frank’s stamina or resolve starts to wane that she really steps into her own. My favourite line is when she tells Frank that he should give his heart to the president even if he has to rip it out and put in on a plate. Lady Macbeth here we come!
Claire is the epitome of personal brand management. She does not do public arguments, preferring to make space to “discuss” behind closed doors where there are no observers. She can be hard, but we are allowed to see small glimpse of humanity behind that hardness. The moments she catch with her lover in the first series reflect the fact that she has a warmth, a spontaneity about her, although as we later realise, anyone that messes with Claire tends to come off worse in the end, including her romantic dalliances.
Eventually, we see her rise to Presidency. At the time of writing, her last words to the camera are “It’s my turn.” Go Claire!
So what is so inspiring about Claire Underwood and what can any bitch in waiting take away that could be useful…
She is in control of her emotions
When we fail to act assertively it can be because our emotions have taken over and we fall into a place of aggression, or that we are scared of facing those emotions and become passive. Claire seems to be able to work from a place where her emotions are not leading her astray which helps her make more rational and logical decisions, regardless of whether we agree with them morally and ethically.
Take aways: managing your emotions around difficult subjects or situations is never easy, but it is a skill worth cultivating. Options are making a rule to breathe before you speak, move yourself away from the situation or always sleep on an angry email before you send it. Talking the situation over with a third party who has no vested interest can sometimes help, although be careful not to choose friends who love to inflame a situation for the drama.
She’s a master power dresser.
Claire knows how to dress for the occasion, She’s never undressed, and her stylish if neutral outfits in block colours give her a sense of substance. Most outfits are tailored, if not fitted. They give her body, personality and structure. There are no florals or flowing materials, in fact there is something slightly masculine, if not military about many of her outfits. Her clothe give the impression that she is a women of power. A solid person.
Take-aways: We are not saying you need to dress like Claire, but what can you do to add some substance or power to the way you dress? If it sounds a little too superficial, think about the psychological impact wearing certain clothes have on you. Not sure? Try it out. As an experiment try high heels, smart suits. Whatever you think might suit your body and lifestyle, and see how that makes you feel.
She looks after herself
This is a woman who knows that she has to take care of herself. Self-care is fundamental. She runs, even dragging secret service men out of bed in the middle of the night to accompany her on a late night run when she’s stressed. Her nails, hair etc. are always pristine and she eats well. We see her and Frank eating fruit rather than pigging out on a tray of doughnuts. We never see her drunk or chugging wine, even on special occasions. She treats herself with respect.
Take aways: what self-care habits can you start to build up this very day? Exercise has a huge impact on our physical and mental health so that’s an excellent place to start. Just as good is swapping one item of junk food for something nutritious and build a habit up from there. Swapping your mid-afternoon chocolate bar for an apple could just be the start.
If you watch her rise, one thing you’ll notice is Claire Underwood’s absolute patience. She has learned what she has to learn, done her time on committees, built relationships with the right people and kept to her plan. At times we have sensed her impatience, but it is still clear that she is in control and not prepared to risk everything when the time is not right.
The other important point about her patience is that she has a plan. She knows what she wants and can see a map of her journey to get there.
Take-aways: Do you know what you want? If so, have you a plan to get there? If you don’t know what it is you want, how can you explore that? Perhaps it’s time for some daily journalling or work with a coach?
Not in an unstable way, but she’s definitely a woman of surprises. She doesn’t give much away, and although this is a little akin keeping her emotions under control, there is another element to it. As she doesn’t tell other people her plans, she doesn’t have to justify herself, or arguing her own case when people disagree. It also takes away the feeling the pressure of keeping to something she has said she intends to do. Her plans are her own. She doesn’t conduct a WhatsApp straw poll on whether she should go on a second date with a guy that’s just OK, or ask her Facebook friends what shoes go with what outfit. She keeps her own counsel and seems all the more powerful for it.
Take-aways: it can be nice to make decisions with the input of others, but if you’re someone who regularly does this, try making some decisions on your own and see how empowered it makes you feel.
Want to be more like Claire. Join us and bring some Claire Underwood into your life.